Slater and Gordon UK Holdings Ltd, with its subsidiary companies (“the Group”), is one of the UK's largest and best-known consumer law firms, with offices in locations across England, Scotland, Wales and Malta and provides a wide range of specialist consumer legal and complementary services.
The mission of the Group is to provide high quality, technology-driven legal services to all UK consumers.
Our approach to tax risk – Risk Management and Governance
Tax risk is the risk that any of the Group’s tax returns or associated tax liabilities are not fully accurate, possibly leading to incorrect payment of tax and tax penalties. In addition, the Group could suffer reputational damage and so is keen to avoid this possibility. The Group is subject to the following key taxes:
- Corporation Tax with respect to the various Group member companies.
- Income Tax for the Limited Liability Partnership.
- Value-Added Tax.
- Payroll taxes (PAYE and NICs) with a workforce of circa 2,200 at the time of publication.
Tax risk is managed within the following framework:
- The board of directors has overall responsibility for risk management and ensures that effective risk management procedures are in place. Tax risk falls under the responsibility of the Chief Financial Officer.
- Internally, risk is managed through controls over the financial information which impacts on tax returns.
- Accounting information which is used to produce tax returns is all subject to internal controls which are documented within the framework of the Senior Accounting Officer regime, to which the Group is subject.
- The Group Financial Controller has responsibility for day-to-day management of tax risk.
- In addition, the finance functions within each part of the group are responsible for the accurate production of financial information used to produce tax returns
- The Group also manages tax risk by the use of external advisers. Direct tax returns are prepared by a specialist adviser. Where complex VAT issues arise, external advice is sought to confirm or guide the views of the internal finance function.
- Payroll taxes are dealt with by an in-house team, supported by the Group Financial Controller who advises on specific technical issues with an external specialist in support if needed.
Level of risk in relation to UK taxation that the group is prepared to accept
The Group has no defined level of ‘acceptable risk’, and a low appetite for tax risk.
Both our business model and our corporate structure are straightforward. The Group does not seek to artificially manipulate its affairs to minimise tax liabilities and seeks to pay the correct amount of tax in accordance with the spirit as week as the letter of the law in all jurisdictions.
VAT as a key area where risk of non-compliance could result in significant cost, so we ensure we seek regular input from advisers on technical issues.
The Group’s workforce of more than 2,000 at the time of publication means that there is a significant payroll tax obligation, and remuneration arrangements are straightforward.
The group's attitude to tax planning
We have an economic, environmental and social impact that goes beyond our core activity, and the Slater and Gordon name is well-known amongst consumers. We want to maintain our reputation as a trusted adviser and our attitude to tax planning reflects this.
We do not:
- Engage in aggressive tax planning which goes against the intention of Parliament;
- Put in place tax arrangements that are contrived or artificial, especially as this could damage our position as a trusted legal adviser to our customers;
- Promote tax avoidance.
This approach seeks to balance the interests of shareholders with customers, tax authorities and regulators, as well as the local communities in which we operate. The senior management of the Group very much wish to preserve the Group’s reputation and the Group’s attitude to risk planning reflects this.
Where advisers are used, this is primarily to manage tax risk and to ensure we are aware of the full taxation implications arising from transactions. This is particularly useful in the following circumstances:
- One-off transactions;
- Complex areas where internal expertise may be limited; and
- Where the Group wishes to get a second opinion if a position is not completely clear.
The group's dealings with HRMC
- The Group strives to build an open and for an open and collaborative relationship with HMRC departments which deal with our tax affairs.
- The Group seeks to ensure all filings are submitted on time and provides HMRC with clear and adequate levels of detailed disclosures so that HMRC can fulfil its obligations to review our affairs.
- Voluntary disclosures are made whenever the Group identifies inadvertent errors in the tax affairs of the Group.
The Group issues this statement of tax policy to comply with Paragraph 16 and Paragraph 25 of Schedule 19 of Finance Act 2016 for the year ended 31 December 2019.