Money saving

VAT Loopholes that’ll help you save a packet this Christmas!

Posted 28 November 2015

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Be a savvy shopper and save some pennies this Christmas – all the more to spend on those essential festive foods.

Perhaps more than any other time of year, Christmas is the time when every penny really does count.  If your finances are under pressure than finding a few bargains or canny savings can really make a difference.  One way you can do this is by being savvy with your shopping and buying things that have less VAT on them. Here’s a list of some of the Christmas food faves, all legitimately VAT free!  


If you need nibbles for your New Year’s Eve party get tortilla chips, prawn crackers, bagel chips or twiglets, all of which have zero rating VAT compared to potato crisps.


Christmas is one of those times of year when nuts are a must for many of us. Wrestling escapee almonds as they launch themselves across your living room, or almost breaking your arm trying to crack a brazil are a thing of the past now that most nuts come already shelled. But Christmas is still one time of year when you can get your hands on a bag of nuts still in their shells. And a good thing it is too, when you consider that deciding to use some elbow grease can save you the cost of the VAT. 


Dried fruit

Another staple festive favourite is dried fruits – glace cherries and crystalised ginger are two of the best known. But did you know that buying them in the baking aisle is cheaper than in the snacking aisle? So buy them there and save the VAT.


If you fancy an ice-cream based desert on Boxing Day – it’ll wash down those turkey sandwiches beautifully – make sure it’s a Baked Alaska. This delicious dessert has an ice-cream centre covered in meringue and needs to be baked (as the name suggests) to be eaten. This makes it zero-rated for tax. If you buy any other kind of ice-cream dessert, like a gateau that has ice-cream in it, you’ll pay standard rate tax.    

Naked biscuits and baked goods

If you love a good biccie, try to get a taste for the non-chocolate kind. Yes, that’s right, biscuits that are either half or fully covered with chocolate are subject to standard rate VAT. While those that do not have any chocolate are zero rated. If you really love chocolate biscuits, go for chocolate chip or buy non chocolate ones and dip them, making it into a fun activity for the kids along the way maybe?

You could also buy an assortment of biscuits, because as long as the weight of the standard rate biscuits doesn’t exceed 15% of the total weight, the whole of the tin will be classed as zero rated.  

And who can resist a Lebkuchen, all dark chocolate and spice and gooey with jam? Although these are not really biscuits, they’re little cakes, they are another Christmas favourite. These are zero rated. And if you fancy something super indulgent, grab Millionaires Shortbread instead of shortbread covered in chocolate, the former has no VAT.  

A little tipple

If you like to indulge in a boozy chocolate of two at Christmas time, just swap the chocolate for fruit and you’ll be saving yourself the VAT. Get some cherries in Kirsch and indulge in those instead.

Okay, that’s a few quid saved right there and, as we all know, every penny saved helps.

If you find that you’re struggling with your finances before Christmas has even started, why not have a chat with one of our trained debt advisors? They’ll be able to help you look at your current situation and advise on a debt solution that can help. All you need to do is choose one of the ‘contact us’ options on the left of the page to get started.

by Shelley Bowers

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