Taxing Rum Babas and Ice Lollies in the U.K.


ice lollies, I guess

From The Guardian, an examination of existing taxes on food in the U.K. At the moment, there's a value-added tax (VAT) on some, but not all, comestibles in Old Blighty. But it's pretty hard to understand the logic of the taxation system (not least because they eat some weird stuff over there, or at least call it by weird names):

Take cakes and biscuits, for instance. If they're "wholly or partly covered in chocolate or some product similar in taste or appearance", then they're [taxed at an additional] 15%. But millionaire's shortcake, with a shortcake base, a layer of caramel and usually one of chocolate, too? That's zero. Fruitcakes, meringues, flapjack, marshmallows, teacakes? Zero again. Florentines? Full wack. Chocolate chip biscuits? Plus 15% (like "gingerbread men decorated with chocolate unless this amounts to no more than a couple of dots for the eyes"). But bourbon biscuits stuffed with chocolate, and Jaffa cakes, waddle home free—just like rum babas. Baked Alaska is a zero, but ice lollies are standard rate. Cream cakes are zero, ice cream cake is not. Frozen yoghurt that's completely frozen comes without tax, but a little thaw and you're in 15% territory. Popcorn attracts VAT, toffee apples are exempt. And there's absolutely no trace of calorie counting here. A chocolate mousse is zero, a lemon sorbet is 15%.

Of course, both of our great English-speaking nations labor under booze and cigarette taxes. (With even more cigarette taxes about to kick in here. Thanks, Obama!) Here in the good old U.S. of A, we've beaten back taxes on soda (and British taxes on tea, for that matter). But this may be the road we're headed down, since New York Gov. David Paterson and his ilk are likely to try again. Start hoarding your ice lollies—whatever they are—now.

Also, Reason hates fat Brits. More here.