France’s Les Echos: “Food taxation should not be a punitive tool”

Who has not heard of the Nutella tax? An amendment to the 2013 French budget law foresaw an increased levy on palm oil that received the nickname “Nutella Tax”. After being voted in the Senate, it was postponed pending adoption of a draft public health law.
Based on unfounded allegations about the dangers of palm oil for health (cardiovascular risks, obesity) and the environment (worsening deforestation), the tax would have increased by 300% the levy on this single ingredient, widely used in the food industry. The tax on palm oil (€ 300 / ton) would have brought 40 million euros to the state coffers, whilst penalizing businesses and French consumers, the real victims of the proposal.

Behavioral taxation too often moves away from what is clearly established by science. The use of food taxation to promote public health objectives has so far lead to uncertain results.Taxes on sodas exist since the 1920s in the United States, but they have not yet had the expected impact on obesity and overweight.

The fact remains that education and dissemination of accurate information must be the basis of a reasoned and reasonable behavior, sense of responsibility and personal commitment to limiting excesses or addictions. Faced with a fair and consistent tax, a taxpayer may be an empowered consumer, do not treat citizens as outsiders. Taxation should not be a punitive tool!


The full article can be read here.

Education not tax, Government revenue, Industry, Ineffective on obesity, Taxes unfair, What others say: experts, Europe, France