Free cash withdrawals from machines at corner shops could soon be scrapped following a legal ruling.
Retailers are facing a £400 million bill after the ruling upheld government moves dating from 2013 that the machines common in small shops and on forecourts of independent petrol stations should be subject to separate business rates.
CVS said the number of cash machines being liable for business rates climbed from 3,140 in 2010 to 14,068 this year.
“With banks continuing to close branches at an alarming rate, access to cash from retail sites is more important than ever before,” said Mark Rigby, chief executive of CVS.
“Should the approach of the government’s agency be upheld and cash machines removed from service, villages and communities will be deprived of convenient access to cash local people need and deserve.”
He added that charging rates on cash machines was “nothing more than a stealth tax”.
The judgment was made in the Upper Tribunal and follows a long-running case brought by various big name retailers, including Sainsbury’s, Tesco and the Co-operative Group, as well as non-bank ATM operator Cardtronics Europe. There is likely to be an appeal.
While ATMs attached to retailers are having to pay rates, it does not apply to free-standing cash machines within stores.
Retailers face losing £200 million in rebates for past rates paid and a further £206 million bill for the next five years under the recent revaluation.
More than 196,000 business rates appeals lodged with the Valuation Tribunal Service – that’s almost one in six cases – relates to cash machines, a FOI request by the CVS has revealed.
James Lowman, cheif executive of Association of Convenience Stores, said the ruling would make it tougher for smaller retailers to offer free-to-use cash machines.
“This will have wide ranging and damaging implications not just for convenience stores, but also for small businesses, markets and other services on high streets and in neighbourhoods where this is often the only local free source of cash,” he said.