Cumbria Times
A Voice of the Free Press
1:00 AM 25th March 2024

Pets As Food, Non-Essential Toilet Roll & Non-luxury Caviar

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay
Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay
There have been some odd taxes introduced throughout the years, from a urine tax first-introduced by the Romans, to a window tax on homes and a tax on the number of hats owned in the Georgian-era, while a gin tax was previously introduced to curb consumption in 1736.

But believe it or not, there remain some very odd examples when it comes to modern day taxes and how they are applied to certain products. Here are some of the strangest.

Non-essential toilet roll taxed at 20% VAT

Toilet roll is quite clearly a pretty essential item in our day to day lives, as are most toiletries. In general, most toiletries are taxed at the standard VAT rate, whilst sanitary products are now taxed at a zero rate, with contraceptives having also been reduced to a 5% rate. However, according to the government, toilet roll doesn’t count as an essential and is taxed at a rate of 20% VAT. Now that’s the definition of bare face cheek.

Chocolate biscuits taxed more

We British love a brew, and a biscuit is often an essential accompaniment to a good cuppa. So it makes sense, therefore, that under UK VAT rules bakery products such as bread, biscuits, and cakes are classed as essential. However, as soon as you slap a bit of chocolate on a biscuit it’s considered a luxury item and subject to the standard rate of tax.

Tortilla chips over crisps

Like chocolate biscuits, potato crisps are also subject to VAT as they are classed as a confectionary. But did you know that tortilla chips aren’t classed under the same definition so are zero-rated?

Ice cream is not a frozen food…

All frozen foods are zero-rated when it comes to tax in the UK, but despite being found in the freezer, ice cream, lollies and everything in between are subject to the standard VAT rate of 20%.

Caviar not a luxury item?

If there’s a product that screams luxury item more than caviar, we’ve not found it. But someone at HMRC must have a hankering for fish eggs, because it’s not classed as such and is therefore zero-rated when it comes to tax.

Nuts and popcorn

If you purchase your favourite nut still in its shell, that product will be subject to no tax. But as soon as it’s shelled, roasted or salted, that product is liable for a 20% rate of VAT. Popcorn is also taxed at 20%, unless that is, you opt to make it yourself and purchase microwave popcorn which is zero-rated.

Some pets are made for eating

We’re a nation of pet lovers and so the thought of eating our pet is a terrifying one. But did you know that purchasing a pet, such as a gerbil, will see you pay tax? However, if you were to purchase a rabbit it would be tax exempt due to the fact that the government classes it as food.

Energy saving sellouts

The government has been campaigning for us, as a nation, to become more energy efficient. To tempt us into doing so, they’ve reduced the rate of VAT offered for certain energy-saving initiatives such as solar panels, air-source heat pumps and wood-fuelled boilers.

But despite double glazing being one of the easiest and most energy efficient improvements you can make to a property, installation does not qualify for the reduced rate.