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UK: 'Cultural Issues' determine attitude to tax planning, say Lawyers

Thursday, 23 January 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Author: Robert Lee
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Author:  Robert Lee (


What is considered an "acceptable" approach to tax planning in one country may be deemed objectionable in another, according to law firm Crowe Clark Whitehill. 

Commenting on the "cultural issues" surrounding tax planning, the firm warns companies to be careful in their tax dealings. It points to the increasing scrutiny of multinationals' tax bills, and stresses that if "companies don't begin to speak openly about tax, the agenda will be driven by the media, politicians and the public."

Worse still, the debate will be "based on misunderstandings and easy headlines." To avoid the trap of becoming "headline fodder," businesses are urged to "explain to their customers and stakeholders the tax principles that they will use."

Companies must also be aware that attitudes will vary from country to country. For instance, Crowe Clark Whitehill suggests that "what US companies consider to be routine tax planning may be viewed as inappropriate in another jurisdiction. This is partly due to differing tax systems and partly the results of evolving public perceptions on how large companies interact with the tax system in different territories."

Moreover, there can be disagreement within broader political units, such as the European Union (EU), as to what constitutes an appropriate tax break. The UK is currently under investigation for its Patent Box regime, described by the EU as too generous and likely to distort competition within the single market.

Businesses must therefore "be sensitive to the cultural and political debates going on in the countries in which they operate," Crowe Clark Whitehill advises.

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