The Ministry of Finance (hereinafter: “MF“) informed that on December 20, 2022, a number of changes were proposed in the scope of the so-called “sugar levy”. Among other things, the planned modifications to the “sugar fee” include: lowering the existing sanctions, simplifying the collection of the fee, clarifying the rules for taxing beverages in concentrated form, and introducing a mechanism for refunding the fee paid on beverages that have left the national territory.
Before discussing the various changes announced by the MF, it is first necessary to briefly remind what the “sugar fee” actually is. Namely, it is a public tribute regulated by the provisions of Articles 12a – 12k of the Law of September 11, 2015 on public health (i.e. OJ 2022, item 1608) – hereinafter referred to as: “u.z.p.“. Pursuant to Article 12a (1) of the u.z.p., a fee is levied on the introduction of beverages with:
– sugars that are monosaccharides or disaccharides;
– foodstuffs containing these substances;
– caffeine or taurine.
The amount of the fee depends on, among other things, the sugar content of 100 ml of the beverage. However, it may not exceed PLN 1.2 per liter of beverage (Art. 12f par. 6 of the Polish VAT Act).
However, the following entities are obliged to pay the fee (Art. 12d (1) of the PPO):
– natural persons, legal entities and crippled legal entities that are entities selling beverages to retail outlets;
– natural persons, legal persons and crippled legal persons being an entity selling beverages at retail in the case of: a manufacturer, an entity purchasing beverages as part of an intra-Community purchase of goods, or an importer of a beverage;
-natural persons, legal persons and crippled legal persons who are the purchaser, in case the composition of the beverage subject to the fee is part of the contract concluded by the manufacturer and concerning the production of the beverage for the purchaser.
Although the “sugar fee” is not a tax (it mainly supplies the budget of the National Health Fund, not the State Treasury), but the heads of tax offices are responsible for its collection (Article 12e(5) of the PPA).In addition, in matters not regulated, the provisions of the Tax Ordinance Act apply to it (Article 12j paragraph 1 of the Act on Public Procurement Law).
Turning to the discussion of the changes proposed by the Ministry of Finance, it should be pointed out that they will affect i.a. penalties for failure to pay the fee on time. Currently, for such a failure, the head of the tax office is obliged to set an additional fee of 50% of the amount due (Article 12i(1) of the PPL). According to the proposed changes, this amount is to change to 50% of the understatement amount. The basic sanction is to be the application of interest for late payment pursuant to the Tax Ordinance (Article 53).
The draft amendments also stipulate that the “sugar fee” will not be paid by entities at the very end of the supply chain (e.g., retailers), but by those at the beginning. The MF points here to: manufacturers, importers and entities making intra-Community purchases of beverages.
On the other hand, the clarification of the principles of taxation of beverages in concentrated form will consist in introducing a fixed fee for them in the amount of PLN 3 per 1 liter or kg of concentrate. Moreover, the draft provides for the absence of a fee on concentrates used in the production of beverages. In this case, only the ready-to-drink beverage will be subject to the fee, eliminating the risk of double taxation.
Finally, among a number of changes is the introduction of a mechanism for refunding the “sugar fee” paid on beverages that were subsequently moved out of the country. The entity that paid the fee and the first purchaser will receive such an opportunity.
In general, the announced changes to the “sugar fee” should be evaluated positively. The best news for taxpayers, however, is that the public levy in question will not cover new products. Indeed, not so long ago there was a concern that the catalog of products subject to the fee would be expanded.