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  • GST food classification flow charts

    The GST food classification flow chart provides steps to help you work out whether food and beverage items are taxable or GST-free.

    Before using the flow chart you should:

    On this page:

    Flow chart: Food

    1. Is the product listed on the Detailed food list?

    Yes

    Treat your food item as GST-free or taxable as indicated

    No

    Go to question 2

    1. Is the product an exempt food additive?

    Condiments, spices, seasoning, sweetening and flavouring agents such as tomato sauce, jam, cinnamon, cloves, salt, saccharin and vanilla essence are GST-free when packaged and marketed for retail sale.

    Essential nutritional ingredients such as sugar, fat, carbohydrates, amino acids, vitamins and minerals used in the manufacture of food are also GST-free.

    Yes

    GST-free

    No

    Go to question 3

    1. Is the product a fat or oil marketed for cooking or preparing food?

    Yes

    GST-free

    No

    Go to question 4

    1. Is the product considered to be food or an ingredient for food or a beverage? (see Definition of food)

    Food or ingredient for food

    Go to question 5

    Beverage or ingredient for a beverage

    Go to Flow chart: Beverages

    1. Is the product any of the following?
      • a live animal other than a crustacean or mollusc
      • unprocessed and untreated grain, cereal or sugarcane
      • a living food plant (for example, a lettuce seedling or potted herb).

    Yes

    Taxable

    No

    Go to question 6

    1. Is the product sold for consumption on the premises or as take-away hot food?

    Food prepared on the premises for dine-in, or hot food to be taken away from a restaurant/take-away, is taxable.

    Yes

    Taxable

    No

    Go to question 7

    1. Is the product a prepared food?

    Prepared foods directly compete against take-aways and restaurants and are taxable. It does not matter whether they are sold hot, cold or frozen, or require some additional preparation before being eaten. Examples include quiche, sandwiches, pizza, platters prepared in a delicatessen, burgers and hot dogs.

    Prepared food may also be a prepared meal that directly competes with take-aways and restaurants, needs refrigeration for its storage and is marketed as a prepared meal (see Prepared meals).

    Yes

    Taxable

    No

    Go to question 8

    1. Is the product confectionery?

    Confectionery is a sweet marketed to be eaten as is or a product that is marketed as an ingredient for confectionery. Candied peel or plastic packaged dried fruit used in a cake are not confectionery.

    Yes

    Taxable

    No

    Go to question 9

    1. Is the product a savoury snack?

    Savoury snacks such as potato chips; corn chips; bacon crackling; prawn chips; salted, spiced, smoked or roasted seeds or nuts; and caviar, are taxable. Similar foods are also taxable – for example: cassava chips, herb and vegetable chips, banana chips, meat chips, prawn crackers, cheese chips and carp roe (tarama).

    Yes

    Taxable

    No

    Go to question 10

    1. Is the product a bakery product?

    Staple foods like plain bread and bread rolls are GST-free.

    But other bakery products like cakes, pancakes, muffins, pavlovas, pies, tarts, baklava, doughnuts, croissants, scones, scrolls and bread and buns with a sweet filling or coating are taxable.

    Yes

    Taxable

    No

    Go to question 11

    1. Is the product an ice-cream food?

    Ice-cream and other frozen foods like flavoured ice blocks, frozen yoghurt, frozen and other manufactured and ready-to-eat frozen fruit products, and frozen confectionery products are taxable. Similar foods (for example, gelato and sorbet) are also taxable.

    Yes

    Taxable

    No

    Go to question 12

    1. Is the product biscuit goods?

    Biscuits, cookies, crackers, crispbreads, pretzels, cones and wafers are almost always taxable, even if they are sold frozen or as a pre-cut biscuit mix.

    Exceptions include rusks for babies or invalids, dried bread products like mini toasts, biscuit type products sold as breakfast food and biscuit type products made from compressed cereal (for example, rice cakes and corn thins).

    Yes

    Taxable

    No

    GST-free

    Flow chart: Beverages

    1. Is the product unprocessed cow's milk?

    Unprocessed cow's milk is taxable because it is not considered to be a beverage for GST purposes.

    Yes

    Taxable

    No

    Go to question 2

    1. Is the product sold for consumption on the premises or as a take-away hot drink?

    Drinks like milkshakes, coffee and other drinks delivered in a glass, cup or other in-house container are taxable.

    Hot drinks like coffee, hot chocolate, tea and other hot beverages taken away from the premises are also taxable.

    Yes

    Taxable

    No

    Go to question 3

    1. Is the product an unflavoured milk product?

    Most processed milk beverages are GST-free, provided they are not flavoured. They can be supplied GST-free in liquid, powdered, concentrated or condensed forms.

    Processed milk beverage products also covers buttermilk, casein, whey and lactose.

    Yes

    GST-free

    No

    Go to question 4

    1. Is the product an unflavoured soy milk or rice milk product?

    Soy milk or rice milk beverages are GST-free, provided they are not flavoured.

    Yes

    GST-free

    No

    Go to question 5

    1. Is the product tea, coffee or a similar product?

    Tea, coffee, coffee essence, chicory, chicory essence and malt that can be used to make a beverage are GST-free. This includes products that are marketed principally as tea, coffee and malted beverage preparations. Preparations marketed as substitutes for tea, coffee and malted beverage preparations are also GST-free (for example, hot chocolate and drinking chocolate preparations).

    Tea, coffee and similar products marketed in ready-to-drink form are taxable.

    Yes

    GST-free

    No

    Go to question 6

    1. Is the product a fruit or vegetable juice?

    Most fruit and vegetable juices are GST-free provided they contain at least 90% by volume of fruit or vegetable juice.

    There are exceptions:

    • fruit juice concentrates marketed for making alcoholic drinks
    • non-alcoholic carbonated juices that are not 100% juice.

    Yes

    GST-free

    No

    Go to question 7

    1. Is the product a beverage for infants and invalids?

    Beverages for infants and invalids are GST-free if they are marketed principally for infants and invalids.

    Yes

    GST-free

    No

    Go to question 8

    1. Is the product natural, non-carbonated water?

    Non-carbonated packaged water is GST-free if it does not contain additives or flavourings. This includes non-carbonated mineral water.

    Yes

    GST-free

    No

    Taxable

    If you're still unsure whether GST applies to your food item you should seek advice from us or a registered tax professional.

    See also:

      Last modified: 24 May 2017QC 16413