What Are Zero-Rated Goods?

What Are Zero-Rated Goods?

By Charles Joseph | Editor, Financial Affairs
Reviewed by Corey Michael | Senior Financial Analyst

Zero-Rated Goods refer to products and services that are exempt from Value Added Tax (VAT) or Goods and Services Tax (GST). These goods and services still go through the complete VAT/GST process; however, the tax rate applied is ultimately zero percent.

Why do governments apply a zero tax rate on certain goods?

The rationale behind this is to shorten the burden of taxation on specific products and services that are considered necessitous or, in some cases, valuable to a nation’s economic growth.

For instance, some countries zero-rate essential items such as food, medicine, and education to make them more affordable for the average consumer while supporting various sectors within the economy.

One might then wonder about the differences between zero-rated goods and tax-exempt goods.

The main difference lies in the tax recovery process.

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For zero-rated goods, businesses involved in the supply chain can still claim input tax credits for the goods and services consumed in the production or distribution process.

However, for tax-exempt goods, input tax claims aren’t allowed for businesses, leading to a cascading effect of increased costs down the supply chain.


Zero-rated goods provide financial relief to consumers while helping businesses maintain their tax input credit chain by supplying products and services at a reduced cost.

These policies contribute to safeguarding the affordability of socially and economically significant goods in the marketplace.

Key Takeaways

  • Zero Rated Goods are products and services with a tax rate of 0% under VAT or GST systems.
  • They help make essential items like food, medicine, and education more affordable to the average consumer.
  • These goods also support various sectors within an economy and encourage national growth.
  • The main difference between zero-rated goods and tax-exempt goods lies in their tax recovery process; zero-rated goods allow for input tax credit claims, while tax-exempt goods do not.
  • Ultimately, zero-rated goods policies promote affordability and maintain the tax input credit chain in the marketplace.

Related Questions

1. Are zero-rated goods available in every country?

While not every country might have a zero-rated goods policy in place, a significant number of countries with VAT or GST systems adopt tax reliefs on specific items to provide more affordable options for necessary goods and services.

2. Do zero-rated goods include only physical products?

Answer #2: No, zero-rated goods can also encompass services. For example, education and healthcare services are often considered essential and might have a tax rate of 0%.

3. Can the range of zero-rated goods change over time?

Yes, the list of zero-rated goods can be subject to change as governments fine-tune their taxation policies based on economic conditions and public needs. Regular monitoring of tax policies and guidelines within your jurisdiction is important to stay up to date on such changes.

4. How do zero-rated goods impact businesses?

Zero-rated goods facilitate smoother cash flow management for businesses in the production and supply chain. By allowing businesses to claim input tax credits, overall costs can be reduced, and the passing of cost-savings to end consumers becomes possible.

5. Are importers and exporters of goods eligible for zero-rate tax benefits?

In many cases, certain import and export activities or products might be eligible for zero-rated tax benefits. Different jurisdictions have specific rules and regulations regarding cross-border transactions- ensure you familiarize yourself with the requirements and eligibility criteria applicable to your business.