Rank seeks £80m final settlement with HMRC on machine duties

Rank Group Plc has been granted a 60-day extension by the First-tier Tribunal Tax Chamber (FTT) to resolve its settlement on incorrect gaming machine duties charged between 2005 and 2013 with HMRC. 

The LSE gambling group is guaranteed a tax rebate as HMRC can no longer challenge its appeal previously rejected by an Upper Tribunal review – which serves as the UK’s highest legal authority.  

Updating investors, Rank governance expects the business to be credited with an £80 million VAT refund by HMRC.

Rank and Betfred were the original plaintiffs of the dispute, launching separate challenges against HMRC for applying VAT-specific charges to FOBTs machines – which had not been applied to other gaming verticals.

A decade long-dispute was decided by Justice Mann, who sided with the gambling firms in upholding previous judgements against HMRC, concluding that the tax agency was at fault for not providing a ‘clear distinction on the supply of games defined as FOBTs’ during the disputed period.

The Upper Tribunal ruling has opened doors for all gambling businesses that operated machines during the contest period to appeal for tax rebates – a judgement which is set to cost HMRC +£1 billion in total settlements.

Betfred’s 2020 accounts disclosed that the Done family-owned business had received an HMRC credit return of £99 million, helping the company report profits in a year ravaged by COVID-19 headwinds.

Last week, Rank published its 2020/2021 financial results, registering a group-wide operating loss of £93 million, attributed to Grosvenor Casino and Mecca Bingo properties being placed under lockdown for the majority of year trading.

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