£300m ATM decision awaited from Court of Appeal
11th June 2018
The Court of Appeal has now heard arguments which will decide whether ATMs in supermarkets, convenience stores and petrol stations will be separately assessed for business rates purposes.
Tesco, Co-Op, Sainsbury's and Cardtronics are the appellants who consider that the ATM sites should be assessed as part of the property on which they are located or should not be treated as separate units; conversely, the Valuation Office believe that the ATMs should be assessed as separate sites.
ATMs themselves are not rateable as they are plant and machinery which are exempt from taxation for these purposes, but the questions concern whether the sites which the ATMs are located upon can constitute separate units for rating purposes and whether the store owner or the operating bank are in control of those areas.
By conservative estimates there are over 100,000 appeals and £300m resting on the outcome of the case, so an appeal to the Supreme Court is more than likely.
The parties are agreed that ATMs situated within premises where the owner also operates the ATMs (eg banks) will not be separately assessed, but there are three further categories which fall to be decided:
- freestanding machines located within in stores
- internal ATMs only accessible by those who enter the stores
- external ATMs
In terms of the current position for each of them: (1) freestanding machines are not separately rateable; (2) internal ATMs are under the control of the store owner; and (3) external ATMs are under the control of the bank.
By conservative estimates there are over 100,000 appeals and £300m resting on the outcome of the case, so an appeal to the Supreme Court is more than likely. There are also significant repercussions for consumers as well, as retailers will be less likely to want to provide an ATM service in the future if the units are separately rateable and it may signal the end of free-to-use ATMs in stores.
A further update will follow once the Court of Appeal has handed down its decision.