In a precedent-setting decision, Germany's highest fiscal court in Munich ruled a snack shop proprietors need only charge seven percent value-added tax for patrons eating on their feet rather than Germany's normal 19 percent VAT.
However, the lower tax rate is valid only for venues without seating for their customers, as the court made a distinction between "food delivery" for a meal on the go and "restaurant services" elsewhere.
The specific case involved three snack wagons offering peckish Bavarians sausages at weekly markets. Although the owner had only levied the lower VAT, tax officials determined his wagons had small counters people could eat from. These surfaces, according to the court, were merely “helpful consumption fixtures” distinct from proper seated dining areas.
Nearby park benches and other spots to sit while wolfing down a Currywurst or Döner are also now exempt from overzealous taxmen hoping to add an extra dollop of VAT on a person's meal.
But Jürgen Benad from Germany's hotel and restaurant association Dehoga lamented the court ruling's effect on the country's mealtimes.
“Whoever sits down and takes time for dining culture will be punished with higher prices,” he said.