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Sin Taxes Put Finland Top Of 'Nanny State Index'

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

03 May 2016

Finland's heavy taxes on alcohol, tobacco, and certain foods have earned it the dubious honor of topping the first ever "Nanny State Index," compiled by the European Policy Information Centre (Epicentre), a free market think tank.

The Nanny State Index is a league table of the worst places in Europe to eat, drink, smoke, or vape (electronic cigarettes) in terms of cost and government regulation. Finland, with "high scores in every criteria" according to Epicenter, was found to be the clear winner of the the first edition of the index.

"[Finland] has a range of food and drink taxes, an effective ban on e-cigarette sales and extremely high taxes on beer, wine, and spirits," Epicentre observed. It added that Finland was one of the few countries in the world to levy a special tax on confectionery, chocolate, and ice cream, although this tax is due to be rescinded in 2017.

Finland has the EU's highest beer tax, second-highest tax on spirits, and third-highest duty on wine, says Epicentre.

Second in the inaugural Nanny State Index is Sweden, which has the highest taxes on spirits, as well as some of the highest taxes on beer and wine.

The United Kingdom, Ireland, and Hungary were placed third, fourth, and fifth, respectively.

At the other end of the scale, the index confirmed the Czech Republic's status as a "haven of liberty in the EU," with its low taxes on beer and spirits, and absence of tax on wine. Tobacco taxes are also among the lowest in the EU.

Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Austria, and Bulgaria are also among the "freest" EU countries in the 2016 Index.

TAGS: tax | value added tax (VAT) | Hungary | Ireland | Netherlands | public health | Bulgaria | Luxembourg | Slovakia | United Kingdom | food | Austria | Czech Republic | Finland | Germany | Sweden | regulation | Europe

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