Finding out whether food has VAT charged on it or not can be confusing. While some foods do have VAT attached to them, making them more expensive in the process, others do not.
The thinking behind which foods have VAT and which ones don’t is mostly put down to how healthy these particular foods are. For example, the idea is that healthier foods don’t have any VAT attached to them, to make them cheaper and more appealing to buy and eat. In contrast, foods that are not as healthy do usually have VAT attached to them.
Of course, while that all sounds fair enough in a basic sense, this does not always apply in real life. While it may have been logical to begin with, when VAT first came into being in 1973, things have become a little confused in the time since then.
For example, you’d think chocolate cake would be a fairly unhealthy thing to eat. So it should have VAT added to it, correct? Actually no – and a recent survey revealed that 97% of us got this wrong when questioned over whether chocolate cake should have VAT added to it or not. Chocolate chip cookies and the so-called millionaire’s shortcake treat don’t have any added tax either. Meanwhile diabetic chocolate does have VAT added, and so do Weight Watchers chocolate wafers. Weight Watchers, as you probably know, is dedicated to helping people lose weight.
Fruit doesn’t have any tax added, which is fair enough as this is a healthy food. You might think therefore that snacking raisins would be fine to eat too, without paying VAT to buy them. But you’d be wrong – once again, these do have VAT added to the purchase price.
Most mystifying of all is the fact that you’ll pay tax on hot sandwiches but you don’t pay any on cold sandwiches!
It’s no wonder this research has revealed that many consumers are confused over which products include VAT and which ones don’t. There have been many changes since the early days of VAT and it seems that many of them have left us feeling very confused.
Of course most of us don’t consider how much VAT we might be paying on things when we go shopping. We simply look at the price and pay whatever it says if we are happy with it. However if VAT was suddenly taken off the purchase price of some items, we would obviously notice the reduction in the price we would pay.
Changes to VAT rates don’t come along that often. It is easy to see though how confusing VAT really is when it is applied to food items? Would you know how much is charged – if anything at all – on your favourite foods?