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Treasury in payout threat

PUBLIC finances could take a further hit, it emerged last night, if multinationals succeed in securing several billion pounds in tax refunds from the Treasury.<br /><br />The European Court of Justice is set to soon rule on whether Britain&rsquo;s &ldquo;stamp duty reserve tax&rdquo; (SDRT) regime flouts European Union law.<br /><br />The challenge under EU law of the tax treatment of transactions using clearance systems was brought by HSBC, the international bank, after Revenue &amp; Customs refused to repay &pound;27m of SDRT it incurred in 2000 during a takeover bid for CCF, a French bank. If the court rules in HSBC&rsquo;s favour, it could trigger one of the largest pay-outs to multinationals from breaches of European anti-discrimination rules.<br /><br />Tax experts calculate that businesses could claw back an estimated &pound;2bn if the European Court finds against the Treasury.