The hard pressed pub trade has just had another kick in the nuts by the state, courtesy of HMRC.
This is Money reports that thousands of publicans have been sent letters by HMRC demanding they pay back money originally returned to them as VAT overpayments on slot machines.
Some of the demands, which are also being sent to other leisure outlets with slot machines, such as bowling alleys, amusement arcades and railway station cafes, run into thousands of pounds.
This is as a result of a long-running battle between casino operator Rank Group and HMRC over whether or not VAT should be paid on slot machine income. It was first settled in favour of Rank Group, meaning that HMRC refunded the group more than £30 million and started paying out refunds to other slot machine operators. However, HMRC successfully appealed the decision in October last year and is now writing to reclaim the payments.
One publican is quoted:
‘This could cause serious problems for some publicans, many of whom earn less than £15,000 a year and who would have problems finding the money. Many have gone bankrupt and are still being chased for the whole sum.’The farce is going to continue, as Rank Group is appealing the most recent verdict, with a court hearing set for April.
This is of course precious little comfort for cash strapped publicans.
Tax does have to be taxing.
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