Why removing GST on food is a terrible idea

Stephen Hickson at The Conversation writes:

But the beauty of ’s tax system is its simplicity. Removing GST on food, or some types of food – for example, “healthy food” – makes that system more complex and costly. …

In Australia, the quesion of whether an “oven baked Italian flat bread” is a bread (so not subject to GST) or a cracker (subject to GST) went to court, and involved flying a bread certification expert from Italy to testify. The only reason why that job exists is due to complexity in tax systems around the world.

In Ireland, the was required to rule on whether Subway was serving “bread” or “confectionery or fancy baked goods” due to the difference in GST treatment.

In the UK, guidance on how GST on food is applied runs to 40 pages with 130 example categories; in Australia, an 87 page document covers some 1500 food types.

Removing GST on food would be wonderful news to tax lawyers, but terrible for everyone who sells food.

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