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What is "hot"? New VAT legislation clarifies hot takeaway food

What is "hot"? New VAT legislation clarifies hot takeaway food

For many years the standard rate of VAT has been applicable to hot takeaway food. Problems have arisen over the interpretation of whether the food which is sold is indeed hot and therefore subject to VAT.

The legislation clarified this point by stating that if the food was sold with the intention of being eaten as ‘hot’ then standard rate VAT was applicable. If however the food was simply being kept warm to make it appear more attractive or to smell better, then sales of such items could be zero rated. Obviously this left scope for retailers to interprete the legislation to their favour.

In order to make the position clearer new rules were introduced with effect from 1 October 2012 that confirms takeaway food that is hot at the moment of sale (above ambient room temperature) will be standard rated if:

  • It has been heated with the intention of being eaten hot
  • Has been heated for sale
  • Has been kept hot after being heated
  • Has been supplied to the customer in heat retentive packaging
  • Is advertised as being hot food


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