This document explains our tax strategy and how we manage our tax affairs seeking to ensure that our tax affairs are transparent and sustainable for the long term. This applies for our financial year ending 31 December 2021.
The strategy is publicly available on our website in order to allow stakeholders, including shareholders, governments, colleagues and the communities in which we operate, to understand the Group’s approach to taxation. The tax strategy is compliant with the UK tax strategy publication requirement set out in paragraph 16(2), part 2 of Schedule 19 UK Finance Act 2016.
Compliance with tax laws
The Group is committed to maintaining full compliance with all relevant laws and regulations in the countries it operates in. The Group makes full, accurate and timely disclosure in submissions to tax authorities which we work with collaboratively to achieve early agreement and certainty on complex matters whenever possible.
Relationships with tax authorities
We work to build and maintain open working relationships with tax authorities. We discuss, and consult where appropriate, on our interpretation of the law with relevant tax authorities as required and we will seek to resolve potential areas of contention or uncertainty.
Ultimate responsibility for Ascential’s tax strategy and compliance sits with the Board. Executive management of the tax affairs of the UK Group is delegated to the Chief Financial Officer (“CFO”). The day-to-day responsibility for managing tax affairs sits with the Head of Tax, who reports to the Group Financial Controller. The tax team consists of qualified and experienced tax specialists who participate in ongoing training as required. The CFO reports to the Audit Committee and the Board on the UK Group’s tax affairs and risks during the year.
This document was approved by the board of Ascential plc (“the Board”) on 22 September 2021. Any subsequent amendments to this document will be approved by the Board.
The Group operates a process of tax risk assessment which is supported by internal controls generating a tax risk register which is subject to a regular robust review. The Group ensures that reasonable care is applied in relation to all processes which could have a material impact on compliance with its tax obligations. Processes relating to different taxes are allocated to appropriate process owners within the Group, who carry out a review of activities and processes to identify key risks and ensure mitigating controls are in place.
Tax advice may be sought from external advisers where appropriate and where, for example, the tax team does not have the expertise required in a particular area. In compliance with regulatory and audit requirements around the globe, tax advisory and compliance services are not performed by our external auditors.
The Group's attitude to tax planning and level of risk
The Group takes a low risk approach to tax planning and it is the strategic objective, specifically in the UK, to achieve a low risk status as determined by HMRC’s Business Risk Review process. The Group seeks to obtain this status through:
- Paying the right amount of tax on time;
- Submitting all tax returns on a timely basis;
- Ensuring that tax returns include sufficient detail to enable the tax authorities to form an accurate view of the affairs of the company filing the return with an adequate supporting audit trail and sign-off process;
- Maintaining tax accounting arrangements which are robust and accurate and comply with local regulations and the Senior Accounting Officer provisions in the UK; and
- Working closely with the tax authorities at all times.
The tax team is committed to maintaining an open, honest and transparent relationship with HMRC through regular dialogue in respect of developments in Ascential’s business and current, future, and retrospective tax risks, and interpretations of the law in relation to all relevant taxes. When interpretation of law is uncertain, the tax team seek to discuss the issue with HMRC (or other tax authority as appropriate) at the time or refer to it when tax returns are filed, depending on the significance of the matter.