UK tax on Freeplays may be re-introduced into Finance bill 2017

By Robert Simmons
The UK’s online gambling operators may soon have to pay a tax on freeplays and related discounts from August, despite this previously being removed from the government's Finance Bill 2017, according to reports in the UK press.

In September 2016, HMRC published a policy paper which called for the introduction of a remote gaming duty as a way of bringing the treatment of remote gaming freeplays and promotions in line with the current general betting duty regime, in which non-online freeplays are currently considered taxable as operator profits under HMRC rules.

The Remote Gaming Duty (RGD) was slated to be included as part of the Finance Act 2017 which was introduced in March 2017, however in April, MPs removed this and a number of parts of legislation included as part of the act, arguing that there was insufficient time to discuss these issues ahead of the UK general election.

However, according to the latest information released by various sources, certain parts of the original legislation will be re-introduced or potentially amended when the UK Government returns after its annual summer break on 5 September.

It now seems highly likely that legislation concerning the RGD will be included in this second debate of the Finance bill 2017. If included, the amended duty will be applied retroactively meaning that UK-based online operators will be potentially liable to pay the RGD from August 1st.

This is subject to MPs voting to approve the second version of the Finance bill and it subsequently receiving Royal Assent, which could be granted as early as late September or the start of October.

According to preliminary estimates by the government, as much as £345m could be generated over the next four years from the proposed changes to the taxation regime.


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