We believe it is important to state our views on tax in the context of sustainability. We believe our obligation is to pay the amount of tax legally due in the territory in which the liability arises and to observe all applicable rules and regulations in all of the territories in which we operate. However, at the same time we also have an obligation to maximise share owner value and to manage financial and reputational risk. This includes controlling our overall liability to taxation.
The Group does not condone either personal or corporate tax evasion under any circumstances, and where such activities are identified, full disclosure of the activities undertaken are required to be made to the relevant tax authorities.
Our aim is to have a constructive relationship with tax authorities on an ongoing basis. Nevertheless, we recognise that there may be some areas that are not free from doubt or where differing legal interpretations may be possible. Where disputes arise with tax authorities with regard to the interpretation and application of tax law, we are committed to addressing the matter promptly and resolving the matter in a responsible manner.
The Group paid corporation taxes of £248 million in 2011. Employer and employee taxes (e.g. payroll and social security-related taxes) paid were over $1.2 billion.
Our Board’s Audit Committee is responsible for overseeing our policies on tax and regularly review our tax strategy to ensure it remains appropriate for the Group and its relevant stakeholders. This committee is made up of independent non-executive directors. Key tax issues are subject to review by both the Board and the Audit Committee as appropriate.