JDW repeats call for tax equality between pubs and supermarkets

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Reiterated urge: JDW has called for tax equality in the past (image: Getty/stocknshares)
Reiterated urge: JDW has called for tax equality in the past (image: Getty/stocknshares)

Related tags Jd wetherspoon Tax Legislation Finance

Pub behemoth JD Wetherspoon has reiterated its request to the Government that tax between the on and off-trade is equal.

In its latest edition of Wetherspoon News​, the company outlined in the 12 months to July 2019, it generated £764.4m in tax, equating to about £1 in every £1,000 of all UK Government taxes.

It also estimated the average tax generated per JDW pub during the course of 2019 was more than a quarter of a million pounds (£871,000).

In the financial year to July 2020, when the on-trade was shut for prolonged periods and the firm made a substantial loss, £436.7m of taxes were generated, net of furlough payments.

Amid this period, taxes amounted to about 40% of every pound that went ‘over the bar’, net of VAT – about 15 times the business’ profit.

Enormous tax amounts paid

JDW finance director Ben Whitley said: “Pub companies pay enormous amounts of tax but that is not always well understood by the companies themselves or by commentators, since most taxes are hidden in a financial fog.

“JDW understands the need for taxes yet, like the hospitality industry generally, believes there should be tax equality among supermarkets, pubs, restaurants and similar businesses.

“Until recently, supermarkets have paid zero VAT on food sales whereas pubs, restaurants and hotels, for example, have paid 20%."

Whitley referenced back to July 2020 when Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a temporary reduction on VAT for food sales in pubs and restaurants but this was reverted back to 20% this year​ (April).

Equality urged

He added: “Pubs also pay about 20p a pint in business rates, whereas supermarkets pay only about 2p. It is quite wrong that dinner parties in Chelsea, for example, pay zero VAT for food bought from supermarkets when pub customers pay 20% for fish and chips.

“Equality and fairness are important principles of efficient tax regimes and we urge the Government to introduce equality in this area – sensible tax policies will increase investment and Government revenues.”

JDW chairman Tim Martin previously blasted the Government's plans to return VAT to 20%​, saying "it doesn't make economic sense that food bought in pubs, restaurants and cafés attract 20% of VAT, when food is VAT-free in supermarkets".

In the past, the group has also cut the price of all food and drink in its pubs by 7.5%​ for one day only to mark Tax Equality Day

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