HMRC guidance: publish your tax strategy – June 24, 2016

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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

Responsibility

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.


Partnerships

HMRC wants to know how your partnership as a whole manages its tax affairs.


Multinational

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.


Penalties
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.


Appeals

If you believe you shouldn’t have a penalty, you should speak with your CRM first. You can appeal any penalty.


HMRC – Large businesses: publish your tax strategy
HMRC Guidance – historical background

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