The problem with the pasty tax? It’s not had enough media coverage

No really. Despite the rush of politicians to recall when they last had a pasty or to be photographed eating one (me? south London, last weekend, Greggs, branch still open, no photo available), the problem is we’ve not had nearly enough media coverage of the pasty tax proposals.

“What?!?! Not enough coverage?!?!”, you might well wonder. But bear with me.

You see, there are huge chunks of the story missing from the coverage. Of course there’s the normal thing with a government consultation on a range of proposals being reported as if they are all absolutely certain to come into force.

But more than that, there are many other ramifications to the proposed VAT changes which would catch pasties that have barely been mentioned.

Consider toasted sandwiches and hot chicken products. Sell them from a corner take-away shop and you pay VAT. Sell almost identical products from a huge out of town supermarket and you don’t pay VAT. Should the VAT system really be preferring one over the other? It is debatable, to put it mildly.

It’s also fair to say that there is rather more to the issue that my simple comparison illustrates. But that makes my point all the more: there’s far more to the VAT proposals than pasties and there’s far more to the implications than the future of pasties makers and sellers.

So more coverage please.

UPDATE: Nick Robinson’s brief PS today rather reinforces my point:

I’m told that the pasty tax is not so unpopular in Bradford where small independent curry shops have had to charge VAT on hot takeout whilst big, wealthy chains like Greggs and the supermarkets have not had to on their hot takeout food. Anyone from Bradford like to tell me whether that’s true?

2 responses to “The problem with the pasty tax? It’s not had enough media coverage”

  1. Also the rules currently relate to 'above ambient temperature' which means on a really hot day (>25C) a pasty (usually served at 21-24C) will not attract VAT but on a cold day it will…

  2. Why don't we get rid of the whole Jaffa cake/biscuit farce? If it's hot (incuding from a supermarket rotisserie department, etc.) you've had the "luxury" of having it heated. If it's cold – even if it's a biscuit – it's no luxury. Frankly, the congealed fat in a cold pasty gives it the consistency of a biscuit. Perhaps that's the problem. It should have been more like a Jaffa Cake. Real luxury foods are easy to identify, like sturgeon caviar. This whole luxury shennanigans is a tax raising scam. Better to raise that amount from a truly progressive income tax. Otherwise cut the rate of VAT, apply it to everything, and make compensatory tax changes elsewhere to equalise things for the poor.

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