On July 3 the Supreme Court will hear an appeal brought by HMRC against Littlewoods, in the latest stage of its long-running dispute over interest payments on a tax refund dating back 30 years.
The FT reports that Littlewoods has already received a £204m refund from HMRC on VAT that was wrongly charged on commissions paid to its agents who distributed mail-order catalogues. It has also received £250m of simple interest on the VAT refund. However, the company contends it should have received £1.2bn of compound interest charged on the interest already earned.
Bill Dodwell of consultancy Deloitte said the case potentially had important consequences for claims by other companies:
“There are a lot of cases stacked behind this one.”Giles Salmond, a partner of Eversheds Sutherland said:
“If Littlewoods is successful, billions of pounds of interest will be payable to taxpayers in relation to various historic claims.”HMRC has estimated it would have to pay out as much as £55bn if it lost all the legal battles it is fighting with taxpayers.
However, HMRC has calculated it will only have to to pay out on a fraction of these cases. The provisions it has made for tax disputes total £5.9bn.
Tax does have to be taxing.
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