DUBLIN (JTA) — Bagels were granted equal status with soda bread in Ireland following a government decision to reclassify the traditionally Jewish favorite as ordinary bread for the purposes of taxation.
Bagels and other ‘ethnic’ breads such as naan, pita and tortilla wraps now will be exempt from the 13.5 percent valued added tax on premium baked goods charged by the Irish revenue service.
Wednesday’s decision reverses a provision included in last November’s budget to slap new taxes on "value added" foods. Ordinary bread is exempt from tax in Ireland, but the Irish revenue service changed its determination on bagels late last year, saying they were not "sufficiently bread-like" to be exempt.
The revenue service was overruled by the finance minister, who changed the definition of bread "to reflect the breads currently available on the market, taking account of the development of bread for health, ethnic and other reasons."
Bagels became widely popular in Ireland outside the Jewish community in the late 1990s as consumer tastes expanded with growing prosperity. Since late 2007 the country has been in a deep recession, culminating in a financial bailout that has forced the government to impose new taxes and cut many exemptions.