Silly VAT facts: Snowballs are cakes, Flapjacks are cakes, Morrison's Blue Berry Muffin, Banana Bread, Ginger Bread and Lemon Drizzle Nak'd bars are confectionary, and not cakes.

Cakes are zero-rated because they are food stuffs for VAT, that is unless you are selling them as supplies in the course of catering (as in from a restaurant) when they become standard rated or, if they are actually confectionary.

Confectionary is an excepted item and not treated as a food stuff.

Biscuits and snack bars (that are not cakes) are confectionary, confectionary is not a food stuff and so it is standard rated for VAT.


Flapjacks are...cakes, museli bars which are made of oat cereal are cakes, but if mixed with other cereals are probably biscuits.

Chocolate Body Paint is...a food stuff and zero-rated.

The snowballs case

HMRC's published guidance says that "Marshmallow teacakes, Marketed under a variety of names, such as munchmallows, mallow cakes, teacakes, coconut mallows etc, these consist of a cake or crumb base topped with a dome of marshmallow coated in chocolate or carob, sugar strands or toasted coconut, and may be individually wrapped in foil...have been traditionally accepted as cakes."

Having written that, is difficult to see why HMRC took a case to the tribunal at the expense of the taxpayer on Snowballs, which are of course, coconut mallows, and so cakes after all, however it did just that. In Lees of Scotland and ThomasTunnocks Ltd v HMRC [2014] TC3754 the First Tier Tribunal (FTT) confirmed that Snowballs are cakes.

Since losing the Snowball case, HMRC has added more guidance, "VAT: Liability of snowballs".

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