Soggy cakes, hard biscuits, invisible refunds

Yes, so we all know by now that Jaffa Cakes are definitely cakes. (Cakes go hard when exposed to the air, unlike a biscuit, which goes soft. It’s because a cake is more moist than the air, so loses it’s moisture to the air and hardens, while a biscuit does the reverse. That’s the wonderful world of science, kids!)

And that Marks and Spencers won a VAT refund from HMRC, which had misclassified teacakes as a chocolate covered biscuit rather than a cake, and therefore added VAT to them from 1973 until 1994.

But….M&S won that judgement in 2009…so where’s the refund? Did they get it?

And what about Tunnocks, also purveyors of fine teacakes: have they applied for their refund? They’ve been making them since the 1890s…that could be some tax refund!

Biscuit-obsessed minds want to know…

Teacake image from here

Author: Jennie

Law, libraries, books, crafts, and general geekery.

5 thoughts on “Soggy cakes, hard biscuits, invisible refunds”

  1. Hi Jennie,

    After looking into VAT on snacks a while back I became quite obsessed by this! Am sure M&S must have got the refund (and I like to think they used it to fund those £10 meal deals, which are basically philanthropic works) but I can't find it anywhere in their financial statements.

    I also wanted to say that I heart your blog (because it is fun and because some of my favourite people are law librarians ; ) ). Sorry. End of sycophancy!

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  2. If only HMRC had paid more attention to the name of the product “tea cakes”. Oh well at least we have a definition of each now. Though I do worry about those giant cookies you buy from the supermarkets in little bags. They're soft and go hard when off. Does this mean they are cakes?

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  3. @Michael Ah Tunnocks, made in my homeland!

    @charmianoldman22 Jam? Jam? This is not an appropriate teacake filling! 😉

    @Tax Law Scotland Nice work on the digging – the meal deals are indeed a service to society, although they're sadly lacking in a nice stovies meal option 🙂 I'm also concerned that you're actually managing to write a fun and humorous tax law blog…are you sure you're really a lawyer? 😉

    @dmason Oh noes, will HMRC have to investigate? Well, that's just the way the cookie crumbles, I guess…(geddit!?!?)

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