The Federal Environment Agency wants an “ecological-social” reform of the VAT. Such a move would have major consequences for consumers. And would change the prices of many products.

Meat should become more expensive, fruit and vegetables cheaper – that’s what the Federal Environment Agency is proposing. In a reform, value added tax should be geared more towards ecological and social criteria.

Travel by bus and train should therefore also become cheaper. What is environmentally friendly should become cheaper, what is environmentally harmful should no longer be subsidized by the state with taxes that are too low, said the President of the Federal Environment Agency, Dirk Messner, on Thursday.

Specifically, from the point of view of the Federal Environment Agency (UBA), basic plant foods such as fruit, vegetables, cereal products and vegetable oils as well as public transport should be completely exempt from VAT. This relieves private households by a total of around six billion euros annually. Solar systems should also be exempt from VAT and heating optimization and repairs should be favored with the reduced tax rate of 7 instead of 19 percent.

Higher VAT for meat

In return, the UBA is calling for the subsidization of environmentally and climate-damaging products to be phased out “at a later date”. This applies in particular to the reduced VAT of 7 percent for meat and other animal products, which would in future be taxed at the regular 19 percent. Vegetable products only have a fraction of the “climate footprint” compared to animal products.

According to the UBA, value added tax in Germany is characterized by a proliferation of individual regulations. Ecological concerns are not taken into account, social concerns only partially. Some regulations even promoted environmentally harmful forms of consumption. The reduced VAT on animal products is an environmentally harmful subsidy because it favors environmentally harmful products.

Özdemir for the abolition of VAT on fruit and vegetables

Federal Minister of Agriculture Cem Özdemir (Greens) had also spoken out in favor of abolishing VAT on fruit, vegetables and legumes: “It would be particularly low-income households who would benefit from this. In addition, we would also create an incentive for a healthier diet,” he told the “Welt am Sonntag”.

A higher VAT for meat is also under discussion for the conversion of animal husbandry and a planned animal husbandry label. However, the FDP made it clear that, in view of the currently high inflation, it rejects price surcharges for consumers. Finance Minister and FDP party leader Christian Lindner had said: “My colleague Cem Özdemir has been asked by me to do everything possible to keep food affordable in Germany.”