Fish friers to press VAT claim in wake of pastygate row Published: 18 April, 2012
BRITAIN’S fish and chip owners are expected to go ahead with plans to reclaim millions of pounds in VAT in the wake of the recent “pastygate” row. In fact the “pastygate” affair has its origins in the fish friers sector.
The National Federation of Fish friers said this week that for many years the owners of fried fish shops around the country have had to pay what they describe as a “chippy tax” – VAT on all the hot food they sell. It is likely to base its claim on the case of Manfred Bog, a German stallholder who sold sausages and chips and successfully argued under European Union law that he should not have to pay the full VAT rate as his sausages required little preparation and could not be constituted as a catering service. The Federation said: “We hope that the recent media storm created by the pasty tax’ goes to highlight the anomalies in the law which for many years we have argued are unfair. How can it possibly be fair that a fish and chip shop selling a hot pie must charge VAT on it, but a baker can sell it with no VAT? “And that a supermarket can sell hot chicken portions with no VAT, but a fish and chip shop has had to pay VAT? Why is some hot takeaway food being treated differently to others? Is this fair? “Recent reports have quoted the NFFF as supporting this new ruling but it should be clearly understood that whereas we may be in favour of the level playing field’ for fish and chip shops that this new announcement will create, the NFFF has always believed that ALL hot take-away food should be zero rated for VAT, be it pasties or fish and chips. This is something we are campaigning for on behalf of our members, many of which have submitted protective claims to HMRC for over declared VAT pending the outcome of forthcoming case law.” The Federation pointed out that while the likes of Gregg’s have stated they will fight this change the alternative was to absorb the price increase as fish and chip shop owners have had to do since 1984. “We completely empathise with them as they will be in exactly the same position as our members have found themselves.” The Federation added: “Fish and Chips are the UK’s favourite dish and most fish and chip shops are independently owned small businesses, unlike large chains such as Greggs, so we hope that the recent interest this story has created will help the public understand these anomalies that have existed for many years and get behind a campaign to get ALL hot-takeaway food zero-rated for VAT.”