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Sasol Ltd and SABMiller deemed best tax reporters on JSE

Tuesday, 28 October 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Author: Dominic Skelton
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Author: Dominic Skelton (BDlive)

Sasol Limited and SABMiller are the best tax reporters on the JSE and the winners of the 2014 PwC Building Public Trust Awards, held in Johannesburg on Friday. Sasol was the overall winner for a company that’s primary listing is in SA and SABMiller for won the category for a primary listed country outside SA.

The panel of judges evaluated the annual reports of the Top 50 companies listed on the JSE and took an in-depth look at their taxation reporting. Runners-up Kumba Iron Ore and Anglo American Plc were also commended for excellent tax reporting. Included in the top ten were Anglo American Platinum, BHP Billiton Plc, British American Tobacco Plc, Impala Platinum, Lonmin and Mondi.

"Tax transparency is not about providing technical details and numbers on performance-it requires a more insightful analysis and an in-depth look at tax strategy, risk management and the effect tax has as a whole on the organisation," said Head of Tax Services at PwC Africa, Paul de Chalain.

Speaking at the awards former Supreme Court Judge Mervin King, said a growing attitude worldwide is that companies are making profits in particular countries, but paying less tax than the citizen who is a customer of the company’s product or service. "Boards today have to consider, as part of their strategic thinking, whether the company’s tax policy will meet the greater expectations of its stakeholders," he said.

Researchers at the University of Pretoria who reviewed the companies tax reports said performing well was not limited to obeying the laws of taxation.

"People must do more than only the regulated requirements," said Head of Taxation at the University of Pretoria, Madeleine Stiglingh. Criteria that gave companies the edge were concentrating on communicating tax strategies and policies, as well as articulating economic impact in total tax contribution.

"It was not just a disclosure exercise. You could gather from the material that they [companies that performed well] were serious about being responsible with their tax," said associate professor and panel judge Elmar Venter. He added that it was important for companies to show that senior level management took tax as a serious matter in the firm.

SA is the only country in the world that requires its listed companies to comply with integrated reporting principles, and Mr Venter believes that tax reporting should be integrated with this responsibility.

"I really see tax reporting fitting into that framework quite nicely. If you apply those principles we would expect each firm to think about their tax reporting and how it relates to the integrated reporting framework," he said.

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