THE BUDGET: Sin Taxes We'd Like To See
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No doubt the Minister of Finance will once again find ways to increase the taxes on tobacco and alcohol, but why stop at these particular toxins, when there are so many others that are just as harmful?, asks Bernard Sacks, tax partner, Mazars Cape Town.
Take animal fat, for example, a major contributor to obesity and heart disease among other serious conditions. Not only is it found in meat, but also in every product that comes from animals including butter, milk, yoghurt and cheese. There could be a lower rate for low-fat versions of these products, and a higher rate for the full-cream variety. Of course, the Minister could throw a bone to meat lovers by giving them an annual exemption for meat burnt on a grill on 24th September, National Braai Day.
Then there are the oils, like sunflower oil, canola oil, even olive oil, though this is supposedly a ‘good’ fat. In addition to adding a few cents tax on every bottle, SARS could have a field day taxing the fast food industry whose food (and we use this term loosely) literally swims in this type of fat.
Think, also, about transfats. Not only do they add to your waistline, they release free radicals into your system that damage your DNA and have been linked to cancer. Margarine is the ultimate transfat, and commercially baked goods like biscuits, doughnuts, koeksisters and pies are laden with it.
But why stop at fat? What about sugar? It’s well known that in addition to making you fat, sugar also harms your immune system and can lead to diabetes. This could be a highly lucrative source of revenue for Treasury when you consider the fact that popular cool drinks have anywhere up to 200 grams of sugar in a two litre bottle, or about 10-12 spoons per glass. Again, baked goods are another sugar culprit. As many contain both sugar and fat, they could be subject to more than one tax. Unless, of course, SARS wants to introduce some sort of double taxation treaty.
And then there is salt, the guilty party in high blood pressure, which, in turn, can lead to heart disease, impair kidney function and trigger a stroke.
Alcohol and tobacco are only two of a wide array of harmful substances, and happy consumers of both will no doubt join in calling for the Minister to stop discriminating against them and end this clearly prejudicial attack. Modern life is hard enough without having to cut back on two of the substances that make it a little bit fun!
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