An exhaustive list of fish and seafood species, spices and condiments, cereals and pastas, and dairy and cheese products are among 488 foodstuff items that have been zero-rated for Value Added Tax (VAT), which came into force in the Sultanate over the weekend.
The 488 food commodities — up from 93 items originally —were part of a package of social protection measures unveiled by the government recently to help alleviate the impacts of VAT, as well as the pandemic-induced economic downturn on vulnerable sections of the Omani population.
An unofficial translation of the expanded list of food items zero-rated for VAT, shared by tax experts, sheds light on the comprehensive nature of the government’s gesture. A sample list of some of the products across different categories appears here below:
Vegetables and fruits: The list features a wide selection of vegetables — fresh and chilled — including edible greens, spinaches, pumpkins, gourds, green beans, green peas, legumes and pulses — fresh and dried — and all kinds of fruits, as well as a wide range of berries.
Spices and condiments: A full range of spices and condiments that go into food preparations has been placed outside the coverage of VAT. The list includes sweet and hot peppers, cinnamon, anise seeds, fennel, coriander, cumin and caraway, turmeric, bay leaves, nutmeg and cardamom, among others.
Cooking oils: Zero-rated for VAT are olive oils of all grades, palm oil, sunflower seed oils, safflower seeds, or cotton seeds, corn oil, sesame oil, castor oil and other types of vegetable oils.
Fish and seafood items: Accounting for the lion’s share of the zero-rated food-related commodities are numerous varieties of fish species ranging from sardine and anchovy fish, white and blue finned tuna, mackerel, tilapia, Nile River fish, mullet, shark, Haddock fish, to codfish and shrimp. However, not included in the list are certain premium types of locally harvested and imported fish species.
Livestock, poultry and red meat products: The list includes fresh table and hatching eggs, domestic chickens, livestock such as cows, sheep and goats for breeding, roosters and turkeys; fresh, chilled and frozen poultry and turkey and their parts and innards; fresh, chilled and frozen carcasses and meat of lamb, goat, bovine species and camel.
Milk, dairy and cheese products: Included in this category is an extensive list of fresh and chilled milk, dairy and cream products based on their content of fat and lactose, as well as yoghurts in a variety of form (unsweetened with sugars or sweeteners), including buttermilk, laban, cream, sour milk, butter, fresh cheeses, fresh fermented cream cheese and hard or medium hard cheese (such as cheddar, gouda, gruyere and so on) and parmesan.
Grains, flours and cereals: Keeping in mind the varied appetites and staple diets of consumers in the Sultanate, a wide range of grains, cereals and flours have been zero-rated for VAT by the authorities. The list includes single grain or mixed grain flours, oatmeal, semolina, buckwheat grain in various forms — flattened, oats, corn, rice across many varieties — wholegrain or polished, white or brown and so on .
Breads and pastas: The list includes regular breads, gluten-free breads for diabetics, spaghettis, noodles and all kinds of pastas.
Teas and coffees: Green and black teas, roasted and unroasted coffees and non decaf coffees.
Baby and infant foods: Includes milk-based or non-milk substitutes, special formulations.