Warsaw, 13th August 2020
The Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers consistently criticises
the idea and the implementation procedures of the sugar tax
The Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers consistently opposes the introduction of the sugar tax in Poland. At the same time, the Union expresses its objection to how the amendment to the non-enforced act on the promotion of healthy consumer choices is being handled.
The Union would like to point out that any sectoral levies, including the sugar tax, are unacceptable, as they violate the principle of universality of taxation. It is impossible to accept an arbitrary imposition of additional tax burdens on a chosen sector of the economy, especially considering the specific times we have found ourselves in. The economic shock caused by the coronavirus pandemic has posed a number of challenges for entrepreneurs who operate in conditions of reduced demand and extreme uncertainty. At the same time, the beverage industry, at which the sugar tax is mainly aimed, recorded very serious losses resulting from a drop in turnover of several dozen percent. Therefore, increasing levies on this industry is all the more unjustified and incomprehensible.
As for the impact of the sugar tax, it is impossible in an analysis not to refer to the procedure according to which amendments to the act containing it are processed. The works on the legal act under which the sugar tax will have been enforced have not yet been completed. The draft act has not yet been passed nor signed by the president. There are, however, amendments to this law that is not yet legally binding. Entries postposing the date of entry into force of the sugar tax from 1st July 2020 to 1st January 2021 have been hidden among the solutions contained in the act amending certain acts to ensure the functioning of the healthcare system in connection with the COVID-19 epidemic and afterwards. The possibility of amending a non-enforced act certainly had not been envisioned in the draft act procedure provided for in Art. 119 of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland. Unfortunately, the legal flaws of this amendment do not end there.
According to the information provided on the official website of the Polish Parliament, the draft act aims to introduce further instruments in the field of healthcare that will allow for an effective fight against COVID-19 – therefore, the sugar tax is completely unrelated to its objective. There is no doubt that this way of proceeding with amendments is contrary to the rules of legislation. These activities also lead to a situation in which entrepreneurs are deprived of any certainty as to the regulatory environment of their operations.
Bearing in mind all the above issues, the Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers maintains its position, according to which the sugar tax should not become part of the Polish legal system. This sectoral tax will primarily hit the sector of the economy that has suffered hard from the crisis caused by the pandemic. Such behaviour on the part of legislators is therefore devoid of any rational premises. We also believe that the introduction of the sugar tax will be burdened with a very serious legal flaw, and that it undermines the entrepreneurs’ right to legal certainty.