Denmark axes “fat tax”

About a year ago Denmark enacted a tax on “fatty foods”, allegedly in response to the growing number of obese Danes.  Here is how the tax worked.

…foods containing over 2.3 percent saturated fat were subject to the [tax], be they dairy, meat or processed foods such as butter, cheese, sausage and oil. Specifically, for every kilogram (2.2 pounds) of saturated fat in an item, 16 kroner ($2.70) were added to the price. As the BBC explains, the tax meant that a 250 gram pack of butter cost 2.20 kroner more.
But, the Danish people were not particularly happy with this tax, so they did what all people do when confronted with new taxes…they changed their behavior, but not as the government intended.  In this case, Danes crossed the border to Germany or Sweden where prices were lower.  This was good news for business in Germany and Sweden, but bad news for small business in Denmark.  So the tax is now history.
And with it, the Danish lawmakers also decided to scrap their earlier decision (not yet implemented) to tax sugar.
But something else caught my eye.
The fat tax comes to an end after netting an estimated €170 million ($216 million) in 2012 in new revenue. Danish lawmakers will slightly raise income taxes and reduce personal tax deductions to offset the lost revenue.
So, cynic that I am, I wonder.  Was the fat tax enacted to curb obesity, or simply to create a “feels good” way of increasing government revenue?
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The Sound Off Sister was an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and special trial attorney for the Department of Justice, Criminal Division; a partner in the Florida law firm of Shutts & Bowen, and an adjunct professor at the University of Miami, School of Law. The Sound Off Sister offers frequent commentary concerning legislation making its way through Congress, including the health reform legislation passed in early 2010.


  1. Tracy on November 18, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    @ SOS……….What’s “Dapper Danl’s” feel-good excuse gonna be to raise CT taxes for the next three years in a row?

    • wombat319 on November 18, 2012 at 8:10 pm

      I don’t know what his excuse is going to be, but my response is to move to Florida…where the are no personal income taxes!! Sayonara Connecticut!

    • Shared Sacrifice on November 19, 2012 at 1:19 am

      It’s nice to have a wombat here, I wish the democrats could be such diverse and open-minded creatures! ?

  2. Dimsdale on November 18, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    The analogies between CT and Denmark are obvious, and you would think, instructive, but alas, the liberals insist on reinventig the square wheel, always with the deluded hope that they can do it better this time…


  3. Lynn on November 19, 2012 at 7:09 am

    SOS, loved your post, especially your last thought. The tax ?netted $216 million. ?I don’t know what they were thinking, but legislators don’t give up a tax easily. Therefore, I am curious as to what the cost was to the businesses. It obviously was enough of a threat to the economy to rescind the tax. There definitely is a message here for all our legislators, but, oh forget it. Why waste my time.

  4. JBS on November 19, 2012 at 8:17 am

    Kinda knew this was going to happen. The unintended consequences of “good intentions.”
    All they were trying to do was protect their porn industry! Fat porn has a very limited appeal. But, not to worry, the 216 Euros will be made up by raising the basic tax rate and lowering the standard deduction, on everyone.
    I have already heard of black market big sodas in New York. From dark alleys all over the city can be heard, “Psst, ya wanna buy a really big soda?”

    Read more:
    Revenue will be raised by, among other things, lowering the standard deduction, raising the basic…

  5. Murphy on November 19, 2012 at 9:01 am

    How about $500 boxes of Twinkies on ebay.

  6. kateinmaine on November 19, 2012 at 9:27 am

    option 2, of course.? but domestic lawmakers don’t have to go quite that far (although bloomberg is flirting with it in nyc)–their standard ruse of laying off first responders and teachers works every time–no need to confuse (or deprive) themselves with these repressive measures.? besides, the vat tax will be here soon enough. . .

    • JBS on November 19, 2012 at 10:23 am

      . . . VAT, Internet transaction tax, national sales tax, expanded tax on, e.g. Dr./office visit and medical consumables, tax on prescriptions, tax on whatever isn’t taxes so far,? permit fee for privately selling a car (plus, you’ll need a certificate — $$$$$ –? saying it? isn’t dangerous, stolen, polluting, yada yada), a transaction fee for selling the car, having a yard sale (tax on the sales, too), selling that old bureau to a friend . . .

  7. joe_m on November 19, 2012 at 9:59 am

    Whatever the stated reason, it’s always about increasing revenue. Government is addicted and until we abolish it’s ability to steal from us, it will never end.?

    • Plainvillian on November 19, 2012 at 11:21 am

      Paraphrasing Jefferson’s words, “usurpations intending to enslave… it is our duty to throw off? such a government and institute a new one.”? Actually the one we had was great when the constitution was followed… up until about 1965.

  8. dennis on November 19, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    Just keep electing these same Representatives over and over and over….. Whats the definition of Mental Illness, doing the same thing over and over and over and expecting a different result.? Get ready you takers, when the money is gone who will you take from, Santa Clause???


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