The following Value Added Tax guidance note Produced by Tolley provides comprehensive and up to date tax information covering:
This guidance note explores the exclusion from the zero-rating for food that applies to confectionery.
For an overview of the scope of zero-rating for food in VATA 1994, Sch 8, Group 1, see the Food ― overview of zero-rating guidance note.
In-depth commentary on the legislation and case law surrounding the exclusion for confectionery can be found in De Voil Indirect Tax Service V4.219.
There is a broad exclusion from zero-rating for all confectionery so it is therefore standard-rated. (or possibly subject to the temporary reduced rate, see the Hospitality industry ― temporary reduced rate from 15 July 2020 to 31 March 2022 guidance note). For VAT purposes, confectionery includes:
biscuits wholly or partly covered with chocolate
drained, glacé or crystallised fruits (but not drained cherries or candied peels)
any sweetened prepared food normally eaten with the fingers
However, cakes are specifically not included within the VAT meaning of confectionery.
Whilst the list of products above are considered by confectionery from a VAT perspective, the list is not exhaustive. This means that other kinds of products can also still be considered to be confectionery.
For example, in one case a number of kinds of snack bars were found to be confectionery even though they were not ‘sweetened prepared food’. To decide whether or not the products were confectionery the tribunal ended conducted what it described as a ‘multi-factorial’ test. This involved looking at a number of different factors including:
whether the bars were sweet to taste
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