HMRC to appeal Sportech’s £97m VAT Spot the Ball refund

football-pools-winnersThe legal to-ing and fro-ing between Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs and Sportech over the gambling operator’s overpaid tax claim, worth £97m, is set to continue after HMRC announced it is to appeal the latest decision.

The appeal is just the latest installment in the long running attempt by Sportech to reclaim tax the company says it erroneously paid on its Spot the Ball product between 1979 and 1996.

The claim, which was first submitted in 2009, was originally  heard by the First-tier Tribunal’s Tax Chamber (FTT) in October 2012 and six months later it found in Sportech’s favour. The HMRC the applied for leave from the FTT to appeal to the Upper Tribunal (Tax and Chancery Chamber), which the FTT rejected.

However HMRC applied directly to the Upper Tribunal, and was granted permission with the claim heard in April 2014. In September of that year the Upper Tribunal found in HMRC’s favour.

Undeterred, Sportech applied for and was granted the right to appeal to the Court of Appeal. The delayed hearing took place on 8 April 2016, with Court of Appeal Judges ruled unanimously in favour of Sportech a month later. It is this judgement that HMRC is now appealing against.

With £97m up for grabs, it is not surprising that both bodies are being tenacious in pursuing their claims, but it seems highly likely that the value of any potential settlement, including interest, will break £100m by the time it has been exhausted through the courts.

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