What VAT rate for takeaway?

Catering is part of those sectors of activity that admit different VAT rates. Depending on the nature of the goods consumed and the service (on-site or take-away), restaurateurs can apply a normal, reduced or intermediate rate. In particular, there is a special rate for alcohol consumption, certain foodstuffs. What VAT rate to apply on takeaway catering in 2021? For collective catering? How to calculate VAT in a restaurant? We’re doing the point.

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VAT in restoration: calculation

Contrary to its name, VAT is not a tax but an indirect tax on consumption. The first State revenue (before income tax), VAT is calculated on the basis of a percentage of a tax-free price . In January 2021, the rates are the same as in 2020.

To calculate the VAT in catering, you need to know the sales price of the product excluding taxes (excl.) and the applicable VAT rate. On the government website, an official simulator is available for free, which allows to calculate:

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  • the price excl. VAT of your product/service from the price including VAT;
  • the price including VAT of your product/service from the price excluding VAT;
  • the amount of VAT invoiced

But how do you know what rate to apply? This is where the things are complicated, as the catering sector accepts several VAT rates depending on the nature of the supply or product consumed. Far from being trivial, this tax gap represents a real challenge in restoration. Control of the different VAT rates is essential to avoid errors of additions and billing. It is both a billing and cash management issue. The application of the VAT rate can result in a financial cost or a huge financial economy .

But that’s not all: in order to combat VAT fraud, which costs the state between 20 and 30 billion each year (under uncollected VAT), the tax authorities closely monitor businesses and track down attempts at fraud. An error in applying the VAT rate can lead to different disputes with the tax authority .

VAT: one tax, 4 different rates

There are four major VAT rates. Thus, depending on the goods and services you buy, the amount of VAT is different. And the gaps are wide: it can range from 2.1% to 20% of the price total. Voici les principaux taux de TVA actuellement en vigueur dans l’Hexagone.

Taux Montant Champ d’application
Normal 20% Ventes de biens et prestations de services
Intermédiaire 10% Produits agricoles non transformés
Bois de chauffage
Travaux d’amélioration du logement
Certaines prestations de logement et de camping
Fairs and Exhibitions
Games and fairground rides
Entrance fees to museums, zoo, monuments
Passenger transport
Waste treatment
Reduced 5.5% Food
Feminine Hygienic Protection Products
Facilities and services for PMR
Gas and electricity subscriptions
Supply of heat from renewable energy
Supply of meals in school canteens
Live Performance and Cinema Ticketing
Imports and deliveries of works of art
Energy Renovation
Social or emergency housing
Home Accession.
Individual 2.1% Medicines reimbursable by social security
Sales of live animals of slaughter and cold meats to non taxable
TV Fee
Some shows
Press publications registered with the Joint Publications Commission and Press Agencies.

👉 Good to know : regarding the application of VAT in Corsica and in the DROM, there are specific VAT rates, different from the applicable rates in metropolitan France.

VAT rates in catering in 2021

As mentioned above, the catering sector recognizes several VAT rates :

VAT Rate Product/Service
Normal VAT rate at 20% Alcoholic beverages consumed on-site and takeaway
10% Intermediate VAT rate Drinks and meals consumed onsite/ to take away.
VAT rate reduced to 5.5% Food and non-alcoholic beverages sold sealed, takeaway

VAT rates on takeaway catering in 2021

In the restore, the intermediate rate of 10% is the “default” rate. This is the one that applies to most appetizers, dishes and desserts consumed on site, and non-alcoholic beverages. It is also the one that applies to takeaway if consumption is immediate:

  • fast food;
  • food-trucks;
  • caterer;
  • sandwiches
  • ; quiches, pies, sandwiches, etc. purchased in bakery

The majority of food items purchased with restaurant tickets or Swile and Edenred cards therefore have a 10% VAT. Conversely, products intended for longer storage, such as dishes purchased from the caterer and sold sealed, have a rate of 5.5% .

As for non-alcoholic beverages, the VAT rate depends on whether or not to store them: a Coca-Cola type soda consumed on the terrace will be taxed at 10% (immediate consumption). The same soda sold closed in a bottle or in a can will be taxed at 5.5% .

VAT and alcohol in restaurants

For alcoholic beverages, a single rate: the normal rate of 20%. And whatever the place purchase (bar, cafe, restaurant) and consumption (on site, take away).

Restaurateurs: how to collect VAT?

VAT is a tax collected by the taxpayer himself. In our case, the restaurateur. According to the General Tax Code (CGI), “where transactions subject to different rates are subject to global and flat-rate invoicing, it is the responsibility of the payer to disaggregate the revenue corresponding to each rate , in a simple and economically realistic manner, under his own responsibility and subject to the right of control of the Administration (Article 268bis of the CGI)”.

Otherwise, the price must be subject in full at the highest VAT rate (20%). Also, when a restaurateur issues invoices , he must ensure that each product/service billed corresponds to the correct rate of VAT.

The checkout software

Most restaurants, bars and cafes subject to VAT are equipped with checkout software . Article 286-I-3° bis of the Code Général des Taxes (CGI) presents the use of software or a cash register system that satisfies the conditions of inalienability, security, retention and archiving of data for the purpose of controlling the tax administration.

Modern version of the cash register, this tool is coupled with a payment terminal records customer payments and financial movements of the institution.

Ticket Z

Also referred to as a checkout Z, Ticket Z is a summary of the day’s receipts. Automatically issued at cash close, it allows you to evaluate the overall summary of the activity of the day, and to disaggregate sales by VAT.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the VAT rate on food products?

Food products purchased on large surface, and from market gardeners and producers are taxed at a reduced rate of 5.5%. This concerns fruits and vegetables, meat, fish and seafood. That said, some goods are taxed at the normal rate of 20% . This is:

  • of caviar
  • Confectionery
  • Vegetable fats
  • of margarine
  • Chocolate Bars

Be careful however, because dark chocolate bars are taxed at a reduced rate of 5.5% .

What is the VAT rate on Coca-Cola?

It all depends on how the said Coca-Cola is served and consumed:

  • purchase of bobbin/ bottle: the VAT rate Applicable is 5.5%.
  • purchase of can/bottle already decapsulated or open (in a bar or cafe for example): the applicable VAT rate is 10%.

What is the VAT rate on cheese?

On sale, dairy products (butter, cheese, etc.) are taxed at a reduced rate of 5.5%. On the other hand, the normal rate of 20% applies to sales or deliveries of blue powder used in the manufacture of certain cheeses (Bleu d’Auvergne, Roquefort). In catering, the cheese is consumed directly by the customer: the VAT rate is 10%.

What VAT on collective catering?

Collective catering in three different settings:

  • corporate canteens;
  • school canteens and academics
  • and meals served in health facilities.

In business canteens, the provision of meals to local government staff by the managers of business and administrative canteens is automatically subject to VAT at the rate of 10% .

Canteens in schools and universities are exempt from VAT (Article 261 of the CGI) except in the case where the establishment uses a catering company for school and university canteens. In this case, VAT applies at the reduced rate of 5.5% .

Meals served in hospitals and health establishments are also exempt from VAT where they are closely linked to care operations.