Spain to slash sales tax on health masks to 4% from 21%, minister says

A man wearing a protective mask stands next to a scraps stall at La Cebada market amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Madrid, Spain, November 5, 2020. REUTERS/Sergio Perez/Files

MADRID (Reuters) - The Spanish government will cut the value-added tax on health masks to 4% from 21% in a bid to reduce their retail price amid the coronavirus pandemic, Budget Minister Maria Jesus Montero said on Wednesday.

Speaking during a parliament debate on next year’s budget the minister said the government had made the decision after being informed by the European Commission late on Tuesday that the sales tax reduction was acceptable.

“The government will ensure that VAT reduction translates into a lower price for the consumer and not into higher margins for business,” she told lawmakers.

The use of masks covering the nose and the mouth to prevent coronavirus contagion has been mandatory for several months in most of Spain - which has the second-highest number of cumulative infections in western Europe - for people from the age of six.

Reporting by Inti Landauro and Nathan Allen, editing by Andrei Khalip