The government today (5 December) published draft legislation confirming a levy for sugary soft drinks to be introduced in April 2018.
The levy, which is being introduced as an attempt to reduce obesity, and improve the nation’s health, will affect producers, importers, retailers and consumers of soft drinks that contain added sugar.
According to the draft, there will be an exemption for the “smallest producers and also operators importing of soft drinks from the smallest producer abroad”.
It has been confirmed that there will be two rates – a lower rate which will apply to soft drinks with a total sugar content of 5g or more per 100ml, and a higher rate for drinks with 8g or more per 100ml.
However, suppliers will have to wait until the Finance Bill 2017 to find out how much each rate will charge.
Alcoholic drinks with an alcoholic volume of 1.2% and below will also be included. Certain drinks will be relieved from the charge but they are yet to be confirmed.
The tax will not apply to drinks with no added sugar, such as Coca-Cola Zero and Pepsi Max.
Before the introduction in 2018, producers will have time to reformulate their products or reduce portion sizes.
Earlier this month, chocolate giant Nestlé claimed it had found a way to restructure the sugar in its chocolate, reducing the content by 40%.
Legislation will be introduced in the Finance Bill 2017. It will define what drinks are not included, who will be liable to register and pay, how to pay, and the rates of the levy.
Businesses are expected to incur one-off costs once the legislation comes into practice as they register with HMRC and train staff on the new rules. There will be ongoing costs including “completing, filing and paying quarterly returns, keeping appropriate records (including those required to claim the export credit), and amending returns”.
In August, a number of organisations representing pubs and bars, soft drink manufacturers, retailers and vending machine operator launched a campaign against the levy.
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