Finance Minister urged to introduce zero VAT rating for Covid-19 antigen tests after budget “oversight” left them facing significant price hikes

Finance Minister Michael McGrath was urged to implement a zero VAT rating on Covid-19 antigen tests on a “care and management basis” after an oversight threatened to see their prices rise for consumers.

The minister was told that the 0% VAT rate applying to the tests had not been considered during last year’s finance bill discussions due to an “oversight”.

Mr McGrath was warned that while Ireland’s vaccination programme had been a success, there still remained “significant levels of this virus in general circulation”.

A submission said: “This is reinforced by the public health guidelines which continue to advise caution, in particular recommending self-isolation if you have symptoms of COVID-19 and Covid testing for [certain] categories [of people].”

Officials said that antigen tests had been subject to a zero VAT rate up until 31 December of last year based on a derogation from the EU Commission during the pandemic.

They said the derogation had now expired but it was now possible to introduce changes that would ensure the 0% rate would apply permanently.

The submission added: “Due to an oversight this was not considered as part of the Finance Bill 2022 process.”

Officials said it should now be introduced with immediate effect but that it would require legislation, which could take time.

However, the chairman of the Revenue Commissioners had said he would “listen to a request” for a zero rating to apply on a care and management basis until the necessary laws were in place.