The seminal question about the legal and tax status of maggots was decided at the High Court yesterday with a judge ruling that they were bait rather than animal feed.
Mr Justice Laddie was urged by the Colchester-based company Fluff Ltd, trading as Mag-It, which supplies live maggots via coin-operated vending machines, to find that they should be categorised as VAT zero-rated animal feeding stuff, rather than bait, which is taxable at the standard rate.
But, after hearing submissions on its behalf and for the Commissioners of Customs and Excise, he dismissed an appeal by Fluff Ltd against a 1998 VAT Tribunal ruling that its supply of maggots should be classified as bait.
Mr Justice Laddie said the company was engaged solely in dispensing live maggots through vending machines for use by fishermen.
Rejecting the proposition that anything edible and of nutritional value to animals was animal feeding stuff, the judge said if that was the case then straw boaters, for example, would come into that category and their supply zero-rated.
He said: "These maggots are not supplied as an animal feeding stuff for fish. These are supplied to entice fish towards hooks."
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