Retailers stand to lose up to £400 million in tax rebates as the government prepares to appeal against a landmark ruling on cash machines.
Last month, the Court of Appeal delivered a judgement in favour retailers seeking to avoid ATM sites being treated as separate property units for business rates purposes.
The court’s decision concluded a long-running £400 million legal dispute that was brought by some of the UK’s biggest grocers, including Sainsbury’s, Tesco and the Co-op.
Retailers across the country stood to receive £382 million of backdated rates refunds.
According to real estate experts Colliers International, the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) is poised to lodge a petition to appeal against the decision.
If the Supreme Court agrees to hear the appeal, retailers could have to wait another two years until the case is resolved and may receive no rebate at all.
“Not only is this an enormous waste of taxpayers’ money, but it will snatch away from hard pressed retailers the much-needed refunds they have been waiting for,” Colliers’ head of business rates John Webber said.
“This is one of the most destructive and cavalier actions to retail jobs and public finance ever taken by public servants… It’s just breath-taking.”
Altus Group’s head of UK business rates Robert Hayton added: “Given two tax tribunals took a very different view and the Court of Appeal ruling would have massive implications for councils on their budgets which fund local services, sadly, it was inevitable and understandable although hugely disappointing for the embattled retail sector.”