Behaviours and behavioural change for large corporates in particular in the UK via publising a company's tax strategy. HMRC provides guidance.
Revenue losses from BEPS are conservatively estimated at USD 100-240 billion annually , or anywhere from 4-10% of global corporate income tax (CIT) revenues. Given developing countries’ greater reliance on CIT revenues as a percentage of tax revenue, the impact of BEPS on these countries is particularly significant. G20 finance ministers endorse reforms to the international tax system for curbing avoidance by multinational enterprises – OECD
Who needs to publish
If you’re a company, partnership, group or sub-group, you’ll need to publish a tax strategy if in your previous tax year you have either a:
- turnover above £200 million
- balance sheet over £2 billion
For groups and sub-groups, it’s the combined totals of all the relevant bodies that you must use. This is separate to the 2014 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD’s) ‘Country-by-Country Reporting’ model (CBCR). A business not headed by a UK company not meeting the threshold in its own right may still qualify if they satisfy the OECD’s CBCR framework threshold of a global turnover of more than €750 million.
Who doesn’t need to publish
You don’t need to publish a tax strategy if you’re an:
- open-ended investment company
- investment trust
Your business is responsible for determining whether it meets the threshold and for publishing the tax strategy, unless it’s part of a group or sub-group. In these cases it’s the responsibly of the head of the group or sub-group. You can publish a strategy on behalf of a group or sub-group if your company is registered in the UK.
What to include in your strategy
Your tax strategy will explain your business’s tax arrangements. You don’t need to include amounts of tax paid or commercially sensitive information. If your group has a separate UK tax strategy you should publish the relevant parts.
HMRC wants to know how your partnership as a whole manages its tax affairs.
If your business is part of a multinational group, you should publish any strategy, or parts, relevant to UK tax.
How you manage tax risks
You should work out and include what tax risks are linked to your business’s size, complexity and any changes to your business. Other information on governance arrangements to include:
- details on how you manage your business’s tax risk
- a high level description of key roles and their responsibilities
- information on the systems and controls in place to manage tax risk
- details on the levels of oversight of your business’s board and its involvement
Your attitude to tax planning
If your business has a code of conduct you should include details of it. You should also include:
- why you might seek external tax advice, if any
- an outline of your tax planning motives
- the importance of each to your tax strategy
Where your business forms part of either a group or sub-group, you should include the group’s overall approach to structuring tax planning.
Your tax risks
You should say if your business’s internal governance has rigid levels of acceptable tax risk. If so, you should explain how it is influenced by stakeholders.
Working with HMRC
While your business’s approach to working with HMRC will be understood by your Customer Relations Manager (CRM), you’ll still need to put it in your tax strategy. You should include:
- how your business meets its requirement to work with us
- how you work with us on:
- current, future and past tax risks
- tax events
- interpreting the law
You can include further information to add value, understanding or context. CRMs won’t give you any clearances in relation to publishing details of your dealings with us.
How to publish
You must make your tax strategy available free of charge on the internet as either a:
- separate document
- self-contained part of a wider document
You must make it available to the public free of charge until the following year’s strategy has been published. It doesn’t need to be called a strategy.
When to publish
Your first strategy should be published before the end of your first financial year commencing after Royal Assent of Finance (No. 2) Bill 2016. Your strategy counts as ‘published’ when it is first put on the internet. After the first strategy, you must publish one each year, within 15 months of the last one being published. Although you don’t have to notify HMRC when you’ve published, it would be helpful for HMRC to assess compliance if you let your CRM know when you have done so.
You can get a penalty if you haven’t published your tax strategy correctly and in time. You may also receive a penalty if your strategy doesn’t remain accessible free of charge until publication of the next strategy. HMRC will send you a warning notice giving you 30 days to either publish your strategy or make it available again (free of charge).
Any penalty will run from the first day you didn’t publish your strategy properly. The penalties are for:
- the first 6 months - up to £7,500
- 6 to 12 months - a further penalty of up to £7,500
- more than 12 months - £7,500 every additional month
If your business is part of a group or sub-group the head will get the penalty.
If you believe you shouldn’t have a penalty, you should speak with your CRM first. You can appeal any penalty.
- Tax transparency: an UK example
- Transfer pricing: surviving the new tax world
- Transfer Pricing and Customs Valuation
- BEPS 2015 Final Reports
- International Taxation and Tax Rulings: Policy Issues at Challenging Times (TAXE2)
- EU - State aid - DG Competition – Internal Working Paper
- EU - Overview of the European Parliament's initiatives on taxation
- EU - Anti Tax Avoidance Package
- EU - Public consultation on further corporate tax transparency
- EU - Introducing public country-by-country reporting for multinational enterprises
- EU - Re-launch of the Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB)
- Fighting effectively against tax cheating, devious tax avoidance and money laundering
- OECD - Actions needed to advance global tax transparency
- OECD - Global tax and transparency
- EU - Accounting Directive - CbC reporting / tax transparency
- Draft report on tax rulings and other measures similar in nature or effect for European Parliament
- UK - Tax administration: large businesses transparency strategy
- UK - HMRC publishes tax strategy guidance
- Australia targets businesses that shift profits offshore
- Examples of public tax transparency statements
- The Tax Transparency Benchmark 2015
- BEPS and indirect tax
Written by Richard Cornelisse
Richard advises multinational businesses in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of their Indirect Tax Function and Tax Control Framework.
He started his career as a manager at Arthur Andersen and then became an EY partner where he led the indirect tax performance team for Netherlands and Belgium. Currently, he is a managing director of SAP Tax Consultancy Firm.
Richard has over 20 years of experience advising clients on international VAT issues. He is specialized in the tax aspects of financial transformations, shared service center migration, and post-merger integration work.