Gaming firms could be in for bumper VAT refunds

Contractor accountants might be interested to learn that the European Court of Justice ruled in favour of the Rank Group in a long-running dispute over VAT.

The judgement could mean that hundreds of gaming businesses could receive VAT refunds dating back to the 1970s.

According to the judgement, HMRC breached the fiscal neutrality ruling by treating like gaming machines differently for VAT purposes. This applies even if the machines come under different licensing categories, as can happen in the UK.

Deloitte VAT partner, Anbreen Khan, said the ECJ’s judgement was the right one. Deloitte has always thought that there was an imbalance in the way VAT is treated on certain forms of bingo and gaming machines. He went on to express his pleasure that this latest ruling endorses previous rulings made by the UK Courts and wrongly levied VAT would now have to be repaid.

A spokesman for the Revenue said that the Government department is studying the judgement and further advice will be issued once it has identified the potential implications.

The case now needs to go back to the UK courts so they can consider the position in view of the ECJ’s clarification of the interpretation of fiscal neutrality. The ECJ judgement also lays down the test that should be applied to determine whether or not gaming machines are similar.

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