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HMRC internal manual

VAT Food

HM Revenue & Customs
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Excepted items: beverages: syrups for the preparation of beverages

It used to be policy that all syrups for making standard-rated drinks were standard-rated. This implied that the syrups and such like for making zero-rated drinks would therefore be zero-rated.

We now believe that the correct interpretation of the law means that syrups:

  • used to prepare a wholly new beverage are standard-rated; but those
  • intended to merely flavour a beverage without producing a new product are zero-rated.

Syrups and similar which are designed to be added to, or diluted by,

  • water,
  • milk, or
  • carbonated or soda water

to be made up into beverages fall into the first category, and will be standard-rated as falling within excepted item 4.

Syrups and similar which are designed only to flavour beverages such as coffee, tea or alcoholic drinks fall into the second category and are zero-rated.

Other syrups and similar may be zero-rated if they do not fall within the excepted items, such as those designed to be made up into drinks which are not beverages (for example sports energy drinks - paragraph VFOOD2700).

Others will be zero-rated because they fall within items 4 to 7 of the items overriding the exceptions, because they are in their own right preparations and extracts of tea, coffee, cocoa, milk and so on.