Italy is adjusting its e-liquid tax for the fourth time in four years, and this time the change will benefit e-cigarette consumers. The new tax rate will go into effect on April 1 after the Senate finally passes it in late February.
The country has lowered the e-liquid tax to the level set in 2021 by repealing a scheduled hike that came into effect in January 2022. The tax rate on e-liquids containing nicotine will drop from €0.175 per milliliter (US dollar equivalent: $0.19) to €0.13, and the tax on zero-nicotine e-liquids will drop from €0.13/ml to €0.08.
There has been uncertainty over Italian vaping tax rates, with parliament seemingly changing them at random in almost every new annual budget. Political leaders seem to have no sympathy for small businesses trying to plan for the future -- or consumers who simply want attractive products to help them avoid smoking.
At current rates, a 10ml bottle of e-liquid (the legal maximum size in all EU countries) starts at €5.00 and ends up costing over €8.00.
E-cigarette users in Italy have been on a price roller coaster since 2014, when parliament passed a tax that made e-cigarettes as expensive as smoking cigarettes, killing 75 percent of the country's booming legal vaping industry. The €0.40/mL tax introduced in 2014 (the highest in the EU) nearly doubled the price of e-liquids and forced many e-cigarette users to find products on the black market or illegal cross-border sellers.
Of course, some people went back to cigarettes.
Parliament also banned online sales within Italy.
In less than three years, the once mighty Italian vaping industry has shrunk from 4,000 businesses (in a country of 61 million people) to just 1,000.
Finally, in 2019, pressure from e-cigarette users and the surviving e-cigarette industry persuaded lawmakers to right the wrongs and reduce taxes by 80% to €0.08 per ml for nicotine-containing e-liquids and €0.04 per ml for nicotine-free e-liquids more reasonable.
But last year politicians raised taxes again and set automatic tax increases for 2022 and 2023, eventually raising the tax rate to about 0.21 euros/ml for nicotine-containing e-liquids and nicotine-free e-liquids to 0.17 euros.
Parliament then temporarily lowered the tax rate to 2019 levels due to COVID, but the relief expires at the end of 2021.
In addition to the e-liquid tax, consumers are also subject to a 22% sales tax on all e-cigarette products (as well as most other products) - known as value added tax (VAT). At current rates, a 10ml bottle of e-liquid (the legal maximum size in all EU countries) starts at €5.00 and ends up costing over €8.00. Nearly 40% of consumer costs are taxes.