Landscape Logo Landscape Logo

In a Flap Over Cake

  • April 29, 2022

Is a flapjack a cake or a sweet?


A recent tax tribunal has concluded that the texture and way we eat flapjacks means Glanbia Milk’s versions are sweets, not cakes. So they are subject to 20% VAT.


A taste test conducted by Judge Christopher Staker and Caroline Small concluded the company’s flapjacks have “a dense, chewy consistency similar to a fruit bar or an energy bar. The ordinary person would not consider this to be the typical texture of a cake”


Here are more reasons the panel saw these flapjacks as sweets, not cakes:

  • The bar shape.
  • We tend to eat them on the go, not at the end of a meal.
  • They’re not served for afternoon tea.


It’s an expensive decision for Gambia Milk they are planning to appeal. HMRC’s own guidance suggests a traditional flapjack sits in the column with bread, cake and marshmallow teacakes as “zero-rated”.


It’s a legal battle that brings back memories of the early 90’s Jaffa Cake case - cake or biscuit? After much legal wrangling, McVities won cake status for their…er cake snacks found in the biscuit aisle. They don’t pay VAT.