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UK Treasury postpones finer details on sugar tax charges

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The UK government has revealed further details of its proposed sugar tax, but suppliers will have to wait until April to find out how much they will pay.

The sugar tax will be implemented in April 2018, it was confirmed today

The sugar tax will be implemented in April 2018, it was confirmed today

A new Treasury document released today showed that the tax will have two levels - a higher levy for soft drinks containing 8g of sugar or more per 100ml and a lower one for drinks with 5g or more. The draught legislation also confirmed that the tax will be implemented in April 2018.

However, the document said the actual levy rates for the 5g and 8g thresholds will be outlined in legislation delivered at the next Budget, due to be held in April 2017. Media reports have previously suggested that the levy will be GBP0.24 (US$0.31) per litre for the higher band and GBP0.18 for the lower band but no official confirmation has been made.

Also withheld until the April legislation are details on:

  • How the levy will be paid, collected recovered and enforced
  • The scope of the levy by reference to the type of product, added sugar and sugar thresholds
  • Who will be liable to register in relation to the levy and who will need to pay the levy
  • Who will benefit from exemptions
  • What drinks are not within scope of the levy

Today's document did offer some details on the levy, including that alcoholic drinks with an abv below 1.2% will be subject to the tax. The Treasury also confirmed that the levy will not apply to no-added sugar drinks.

UK soft drinks makers have been preparing for the tax. According to a Financial Times article today, Lucozade Ribena Suntory is to halve the sugar in its products and replace them with artificial sweetener. Meanwhile, The Coca-Cola Co has overhauled its Coke Zero brand in the UK, relaunching it as Coke Zero Sugar.

The British Soft Drinks Association responded to the draught legislation, saying: "There is no evidence world-wide that taxes of this sort reduce obesity and it is ironic that soft drinks are being singled out for tax when we've led the way in reducing sugar intake, down over 17% since 2012. We're also the only category to have set a 20% calorie reduction target for 2020."


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