Operators that have previously paid separate business rates on their cash machines could be in for a rebate after supermarkets won an appeal in the Supreme Court last week, Grocers including Tesco and Sainsbury’s first won a ruling saying they were not liable for separate rates on cash machines at their supermarkets in 2018, but this decision was challenged by valuations officers working for HMRC.
Last week, however, their appeal was dismissed by the Supreme Court, paving the way for an estimated £500m to be returned to retailers. This same ruling should apply to any business that paid a seperate rate on external cash machines.
“The difference is no greater in principle than that between internal and external ATMs in a bank building,” said Lord Carnwath, giving the lead ruling of the court. “No-one, I think, would suggest that in that case the external ATM should be treated as a separate hereditament. On this issue also I consider that the retailers’ analysis is correct in law and should be supported.”
While the case is now resolved, it adds another argument for business rates reform, which the Chancellor has promised to look at once the global pandemic subsides.
“The case highlights just how broken the business rates system is. We need urgent reform of a tax that disincentives investment, hampers growth, and harms our economy,” concluded Dominic Curran, policy advisor at the British Retail Consortium.