Red Meat Latest Item Targeted for Sin Tax

Aug 19, 2019 | Blog

tomahawk steakRed meat may be the next item to be hit with a “sin tax,” although the idea is still being debated. Our tax attorneys have learned that targeting meat for such a tax stems from long-term criticism of the industry’s role in animal cruelty, deforestation and climate change. Not surprisingly, farming groups have raised substantial opposition concerning this idea.

No Current Plan for Meat Tax in the U.S. or Brazil

Fitch Solutions stated that there is not a high likelihood of such regulatory measures being implemented in Brazil or the U.S in the near future. However, they said that because of the rise of sugar taxes worldwide, it is not difficult to envision similar measures being implemented in the meat industry.

Sugar and meat taxes have been controversial for many years. For example, Prime Minister Boris Johnson recommended abolishing the United Kingdom’s tax on sugary drinks shortly after coming into office last month. He stated that he believed there were more appropriate ways to address obesity.

Goldsmiths, University of London, announced plans this week to stop selling red meat on campus as part of an effort to combat global warming. Significant opposition to this decision came from the U.K.’s National Farmers Union, which protested what they referred to as an “overly simplistic’’ approach to tackling climate change.

Proposal Introduced to Support Better Livestock Living Conditions

Certain politicians in Germany have proposed the idea of increasing sales tax on various meat products and using the monies to support better living conditions for livestock. Similar proposals have been introduced over the last several years in Sweden and Denmark. Fitch said the cost of beef and pork in Western Europe is relatively low, however. Therefore, any new tax would have to be considerable to truly change the buying habits of most consumers in the region.

Climate Change Largest Driving Force Behind Red Meat Tax

Currently, the loudest argument against meat is not health-based, but rather based on the meat industry’s role in climate change. The United Nations said in a report this month that forestry and farming are responsible for approximately 25% of greenhouse emissions.

Public Health Issues Also Cited in Meat Industry Studies

The meat industry has been criticized after studies were released linking the consumption of too much processed red meat to illnesses such as cancer and heart disease. Fitch Solutions noted that it was similar health concerns that prompted some of the sugar taxes seen throughout the world. Our tax attorneys are unaware of any plans for such taxes in the immediate future in the United States, but will keep watch as new trends develop.



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