RCB/8/18 VAT—liability of bicarbonate of soda

Part V16 Forms and other HMRC material

RCB/8/18 VAT—liability of bicarbonate of soda

RCB/8/18 VAT—liability of bicarbonate of soda

Revenue & Customs Brief, Issue 8. 13 July 2018

1 Purpose of this Brief

This brief sets out HMRC's position following the decision of the First-tier Tribunal in Phoenix Foods Ltd (“Phoenix”). The issue in this case was whether bicarbonate of soda sold in small tubs to supermarkets qualified as zero-rated food or was subject to the standard rate of VAT.

2 Readership

Businesses that manufacture or sell bicarbonate of soda.

3 Background

Phoenix supplied small 200g tubs (and 25g sachets) of food grade bicarbonate of soda to supermarkets. The labelling on the tubs referred to its use as a leavening agent in baking and also to its non-culinary uses such as a cleaner, deodoriser and mild abrasive.

HMRC argued that bicarbonate of soda should be standard-rated as it is a product with multiple uses, and that it was only added to food for 'technological purposes' as a leavening agent, not for its nutritional value.

Phoenix argued that the product should be zero-rated as the:


    —     marketing of the product indicated that it was a food ingredient


    —     product contained sodium

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