The UK online and land gambling group Rank Group Plc could be in for a major windfall in the form of a tax refund following a decision this week by the VAT and Duties Tribunal, which has ruled that, from November 2003 at least, the UK's Value Added Tax treatment of certain types of gaming machine was inconsistent with European Union rules concerning fiscal neutrality.
This had resulted in an overpayment of VAT by Rank that could be as high as GBP 25 million.
Rank's claim for repayment of over-declared VAT was submitted to HM Revenue and Customs in 2005. It relates to the fact that, prior to December 2005, certain types of gaming machine were exempt from VAT while similar gaming machines were subject to VAT.
The company stresses that this week's ruling is an interim decision and a second stage of the litigation is scheduled for later this year. The Tribunal has indicated that there is a strong likelihood that the case will be referred to the European Court of Justice.  As such it is unlikely that there will be any material benefit to Rank in the current year.