SOME of Britain’s biggest supermarkets have launched an appeal against a controversial tax ruling that could mean customers are charged for using cash machines.

Retail giants including Tesco, Sainsbury’s and the Co-operative Group are taking the Government to the Court of Appeal after a costly legal ruling in April over business rates on cash machines.

At present over 14,000 cash machines are liable for the tax

The Co-operative is understood to be one of the retailers involved in the legal battle

In 2013, the government decided that cash machines which are built into the front of a shop or petrol station should have a separate business rates bill – costing the industry nearly half a billion pounds.

The legal decision sparked fears that small shops and independent petrol forecourts may be forced to close ATMs or start charging for cash withdrawals.

But furious retailers are fighting back in what is set to be a lengthy legal battle.

A spokesman for HM Courts & Tribunal Service today confirmed an appeal was filed earlier this week.

The Sun Online has contacted Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Co-op for a comment regarding charging customers for cash machines and we will update this article as soon as we hear back.

Experts branded the decision to slap business rates on ATMs as a “stealth tax”.

Retailers are having to pay £39.3 million a year on cash machines – or nearly £2,800 on average for each ATM, according to rents and rates specialists CVS.

The descion in 2013 meant bills were sent to thousands of retailers in 2014, backdated to the start of the last tax regime in April 2010.

Almost one in six – or more than 196,000 – current business rates appeals lodged with the Valuation Tribunal Service relate to cash machines, according to a recent freedom of information request by CVS.

Sainsbury’s is also part of the challenge over business rates

Tesco is one of the three retailers involved in the case

The Association of Convenience Stores has raised fears that the tax on ATMs could not only hit small retailers hard, but also deprive communities of vital access to cash.

James Lowman, chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores, said: “Cash machines, especially free-to-use ATMs, provide an important service to customers and support the wider community where often their local shop is the only source of free cash. “The ruling that ‘hole in the wall’ cash machines should be rated separately is demonstrative of the mess that the business rates system is in, and we encourage Government to look again at this and other measures to make business rates fairer for local shops.”

Customers in areas with banks would still have free access to cash but those in rural areas could be forced to pay to withdraw cash.

The tax rule does not apply to free-standing cash machines within stores.

At present, around 14,068 cash points in shops and petrol stations around the UK are liable for the tax.

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