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Tax change 'could spell end for free ATMs in shops'

Shop owners say they could soon be forced to start charging customers to use cash machines or remove them altogether as a result of changes to the way they are taxed.

In 2013, the Valuation Office Agency ruled that any ATM situated on the front wall of a store should incur a separate rates bill. It identified around 10,500 such cash machines.

The agency also decided to backdate this charge to 2010, leaving some shop owners facing one-off bills running into the tens of thousands of pounds.

As a result of these initial costs and the ongoing, higher charges now levied, many free ATMs have become financially unviable.

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has written to the Government calling on it to remove the charge on free ATMs, claiming they provide customers access to their money at a time when many last banks in town are closing.

It added: "We believe that ATMs are a high street enabler providing shared benefits to a range of traders, allowing consumers to access their cash and spend it within their local communities."

"We have worked with the Department for Communities and Local Government to promote the use of discretionary rates relief by local authorities to exempt ATM machines from rating, but there are very few examples where this has occurred. We therefore believe that the Government should consider removing ATMs from the rating list completely."

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