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July 20, 2022
Italy’s sugar tax will enter into force on 1 January 2023
Under Italy’s Budget Law for fiscal year (FY) 2022, the sugar tax will enter into force on 1 January 2023. The tax was originally introduced by the Budget Law for FY 2020 and subsequently postponed several times.
The tax aims to reduce the consumption of certain “sweetened drinks,” with a high content of added sweeteners.
Products subject to tax
The Sugar tax applies to “sweetened drinks” intended as finished products or products to be diluted (non-finished products), falling under European Union (EU) customs tariff heading 2009 and 2202, conditioned for sale, destined for human consumption, made with added sweeteners and having an alcoholic strength by volume not exceeding 1.2 % (volume).
Sweetener means any substance, whether of natural or synthetic origin, capable of giving a sweet taste to beverages.
The sugar tax is thus intended to apply to a wide range of products, such as fruit juice (including grape must or coconut water), vegetal and legumes juices, mineral and aerated waters with sugar or other sweeteners or flavoring, and other non-alcoholic beverages, if they meet the above characteristics.
Conversely, the tax is not applicable to certain sweetened drinks having a total content of sweeteners below a specific threshold or in other cases and circumstances.
Depending on the country where the qualifying sweetened drinks are produced, packaged, or are shipped from, persons subject to the new tax are:
The relevant tax obligation arises and becomes due:
Amount of tax
Under the scope of application described above, the sugar tax is due at:
Sugar tax compliance
Depending on the party subject to pay sugar tax and its supply chain, different fulfilments may have to be met, among which are registration with Italian customs authorities, summary statements, a monthly tax return and finally payments.
Non-established subjects are required to appoint a tax representative who will have joint and several liability with the same.
As for sweetened soft drinks coming from non-EU countries, the tax is assessed and collected at the time of importation directly by the Italian customs, who are in charge for any audit activities for all the other sweetened soft drinks subject to sugar tax.
Thus, it is advisable to timely prepare for the sugar tax to avoid penalties, client complaints, and goods being blocked at the Italian customs.
Failure to pay the sugar tax is subject to the application of a penalty ranging from two to five times the unpaid tax, with a minimum of €250.
In the event of late payment, an administrative penalty will be levied, equal to 25% of the tax due, with a minimum of €150.
The late filing of the relevant monthly returns is subject to a penalty ranging from €250 to €2,500.
Although postponed several times, the sugar tax is scheduled to come into force as of 1 January 2023.
As the implementing law has been issued by the Italian Government, businesses should start assessing the impact of the new tax (specifically verifying sweeteners and total sweetener content) and also start implementing the new compliance processes.
For additional information with respect to this Alert, please contact the following:
Studio Legale Tributario