The VAT on defibrillators is a “tax on saving lives” and must be scrapped, the Irish Heart Foundation insisted in its pre-Budget submission this week.
The charity claims the average cost of an automated external defibrillator (AED ) - €1,500 including €345 VAT - makes them unaffordable for many community organisations. It wants Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe, to remove the 23% tax burden levied on the portable, computerised devices in next month’s Budget.
The Foundation’s Resuscitation Manager, Brigid Sinnott, said sporting and voluntary groups are also being hit with an estimated extra €100 in VAT when they replace pads and batteries – required regularly to keep the AEDs in working order.
"The VAT on defibrillators is a tax on saving lives and it’s time it was removed,” said Ms Sinnott, who is also a community first responder trained to administer defibrillation before paramedics arrive. "The more AEDs there are available in local communities and accessible to the public, the more lives can be saved."
In some cardiac arrests, AEDs deliver a shock to the heart to resume its normal rhythm. More than 8,400 people so far have signed an online petition launched by the charity as part of its drive to have the VAT on AEDs scrapped.
"We hope the Minister will have listened to the thousands of individuals who have supported our petition by the time he delivers his Budget," Ms Sinnott added.
Volunteer group Community First Responders Ireland (CFR Ireland ) is also backing the call. Chairperson, John Fitzgerald, said: "We in CFR Ireland have long called for VAT on AEDs to be removed and we are delighted to join the Irish Heart Foundation today. The VAT on AEDs is a barrier to saving lives and we hope the Minister will remove it in the Budget."
In its pre-Budget 2023 submission, the Irish Heart Foundation is also calling for the publication and full funding of the long awaited National Stroke Strategy, including an allocation of over €10 million over the next three years to beef up stroke service staffing levels.
The charity wants €1 million in funding for a new Cardiovascular Health Unit in the Department of Health, and for work to begin on a cardiovascular health policy.
In addition, the submission urges the Government to direct the proceeds of the Sugar Sweetened Drinks Tax towards a national programme to improve children’s health. The tax could be made more effective, the charity said, if it was extended to include milk-based drinks.
The charity is also calling for a 20% increase to the school meals programme budget, at a cost of €13.6 million, and for the introduction of healthy food subsidies to help disadvantaged communities.
Along with a 10c excise duty on every millilitre of e-cigarette liquid sold, it is also asking Minister Donohoe to start the ball rolling on pro-rata increases to tobacco taxation – which would mean a pack of 20 cigarettes costing €20 by 2025. This would require a Budget price rise of €1.57 a packet next month.
To sign the AED petition, visit: https://my.uplift.ie/petitions/scrap-vat-on-aeds-it-s-a-tax-on-saving-lives.