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Question: "My name is Jennifer Cramer and I am a shareholder
I note from the company's annual report that tax risk management is an integral part of the company's risk management processes.
As you are no doubt aware transparency on revenues earned and taxes paid is fast becoming a key reputation risk issue for all companies and most particularly for companies such as ours with global operations.
In light of this and the company's recognition of the risks associated with tax policies and practices, can you confirm whether the company has any plans to provide more detailed information in our annual report on the revenues earned and taxes paid in the individual countries in which we operate?"
Answer: Incoming interim CEO Simon Lowth said that they do report their global tax payment but have no plans to provide more detailed reporting.
Question: "My name is Katherine Teague and I am here is as a proxy.
The decision last year by the Treasury to stop Barclay's using two tax avoidance schemes had a considerable negative impact on the company - both in terms of reputation and an unexpected increase in tax payments.
Reviewing our corporate structure Barclays appears to have over 1000 subsiduary entities incorporated across the globe with over 100 in the Cayman Islands. It would therefore seem that tax planning plays a significant role in planning our corporate structure.
In light of the Treasury's decision and its negative impact and given the complexity of the corporate structure can you reassure the shareholders that the board and in particular the non-executive directors exercise adequate oversight of the company's tax planning to prevent any future costly consequences related to tax planning."
Answer: The Chairman confirmed that the board does have sufficient oversight and that the audit committee in particular regularly monitors such issues.
Mr. Lucas and Mr. Diamond spoke specifically about HRM Treasury's decision to stop Barclays availing of the two schemes admitting that it was a surprise, they still did not understand the decision and Mr. Diamond acknowledged it led to cynicism about Barclay's Citizenship Programme.
Question: "My name is Louise Rouse and I am a shareholder.
I would like to refer back to Mr Dudley's earlier comment about the valuable socio-economic impact that BP makes in many countries through its tax payments. Transparency on revenues earned and taxes paid is fast becoming a key sustainability issue for all companies and so I'm pleased to see this issue mentioned on page 44 of the Sustainability Review.
I know that BP was a founding member of the Extractives Industry Transparency Initiative and submits relevant information to EITI compliant countries. Nonetheless, we still lag behind some of our peers when it comes to tax information included in one centralised place such as our Sustainability Review. The most readily comparable peer given the composition of our board of directors is Anglo American who on page 45 of its sustainability report provides much more detailed information on taxes borne and collected in many of the countries in which it operates.
Will the Board raise with BP's reporting team the possibility of including more detailed information on taxes borne and collected in various countries in our Sustainability Review 2012? I'm sure Ms Carroll as CEO of Anglo American could share useful insights on the business benefits of doing so."
Answer: Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg said that "we are certainly always eager to improve reports as much as possible" but sometimes "more disclosure creates more questions" and that BP wanted to ensure clarity. The Chair then passed the question over to Bob Dudley, CEO.
Mr. Dudley said that the global trend was towards more reporting and transparency and that BP were active in reporting and ensuring transparency. He said that in some countries the law prevented BP from reporting on tax to the extent that they would like. He said that the company would continue to report ‘right up against the law'.
Question: "Mr. Chairman, my name is Helen De Vane and I am here as a proxy.
Transparency in revenues earned and taxes paid is fast becoming an important corporate social responsibility and reputational issue for companies. I note from the annual report that BT reports on the amount of tax paid in the UK and the amount of tax paid ‘overseas'. Unlike many other companies, BT does categorise tax payments in the UK by tax type e.g. corporation tax, VAT, business rates and payroll taxes which is welcome. However, it seems from the annual report that no breakdown is provided with respect to overseas taxes - either in terms of the countries in which tax is paid or the type of taxes paid. Could you let us know in what countries other than the UK we pay corporation tax and can you confirm whether the company would be open to providing more detailed information on the type of taxes borne and collected in countries other than the UK in next year's annual report?
Answer: The Chairman of BT, Sir Michael Rake, responded positively to the question and said that the company would look into providing more detailed information on overseas tax payments in next year's annual report.
Question: In light of your complex corporate structure, please could you reassure me as a shareholder that you have got good oversight of the company's tax practices?
Answer: The Glencore board said that the company fully obeys all laws in every country in which it operates, that it had declared its support for the EITI in 2011, that it declares its financial results on a regional basis and that it is closely following the debate about the appropriate level of detail on which it should declare its financial results.
"Mr Chairman, My name is Paul Connolly and I am here as a proxy. Transparency in revenues, profits and taxes is fast becoming a hot issue for companies regarding sustainability and reputation. And, I can see that revenues are reported by country on page 112 of the annual report. However, we can only see tax split by UK and non-UK in the taxation section.
Given the company's good work reporting revenue by country, I'd like to ask, can you explain why we do not also report tax in the same way, by country?"
JON AISBITT (Chairman): "I'll pass that straight over to Kevin."
KEVIN HAYES (Finance Director): "Generally because the non UK element of the tax figure is mainly attributable to our operations in Switzerland. We show the effective tax rate in our taxation section which broadly reflects this. There are some other much smaller elements in there too such as Japan, but not enough to be significant. So largely our taxation is based around those two centres, the UK and Switzerland."
Ms Capraro: "Good morning Mr Chairman and Board. My name is Clara Capraro. I am here as a proxy. Transparency in revenues earned and taxes paid is fast becoming an important corporate social responsibility and reputational issue for companies. I note from the Annual Report that Marks & Spencer reports on the amount of tax paid in the UK and the amount of tax paid overseas, without providing a breakdown of the countries comprised within the overseas heading. Could you let us know in what countries other than the UK we pay corporation tax, and can you confirm whether the company would be open to providing a country-by-country breakdown of taxes paid in annual reports in the future? Thank you."
Robert Swannell (Chairman): "Thank you very much indeed for that question. We think we provide a huge amount of information about all of our business in the voluminous report on accounts. You will see, in fact, that our tax charge is a very full tax charge at the corporation tax rate in the UK. We pay our share of taxes and we are proud to do so. We are a British company and we think it is right that we should pay our way here. I will ask Alan if he wants to make any comment about the specific breakdown."
Alan Stewart (Chief Financial Officer) : "Yes, certainly. Thank you, Chairman. The majority of our profits are earned in the UK and therefore by far the majority of our tax is paid in the UK. We do not give a further breakdown country by country, but it is not a significant part of our tax bill. So, it is a UK business with UK profits and UK tax."
Question: "I am Paul Connolly, and I'm a shareholder.Given that financial transparency particularly about taxation is recently becoming a hot public topic, I'd like to firstly point out the segmental reporting in the annual report. In the business operational part we can see the split by revenues, profits and tax, but when we turn to the geographical split we only have it split by revenues. Further to the good work done on the first part, why can't we go the extra mile and report revenue, profit and tax by country too?"
Chairman Norman Murray said:
"Thank you for a very good question and it's very important to us to be as transparent as possible and we make every effort to do that, and I am glad that we had an opportunity to discuss this issue with you before the meeting. Thanks also for noting how transparent we already are. On the question of further disclosure, while we must of course fulfill our regulatory obligations, we always want to communicate as well as possible, we note your point and will certainly take it away with us."
"My name is Matthew Butcher and I am here as a proxy
Thank you very much for your specific comments on tax earlier.
I note that Rio Tinto is a member of the Extractives Industry Transparency Initiative and, accordingly, that we report on payments to governments in EITI compliant countries. However, I note that we have over 700 of subsidiaries in 70 countries, many of whom are not covered by the EITI. Can you explain why Rio Tinto does not provide EITI equivalent information for ALL countries in which we operate? Are we to assume that no payments are made to any such countries?"
Chair: [Brief explanation to the audience of the EITI] "Firstly can I just say that we are proud of our leadership in the tax arena but I'll pass your question onto Guy Elliot."
Chief Financial Officer: "Thank you for your question. We are proud that Rio Tinto lead the sector in the way we report our tax payments. We believe that responsible companies endeavour to be as transparent as possible about tax and that is what we're doing.
I can give you assurance that we report all taxes that we pay. We do this not only on a country by country basis but also on a state by state or provence by provence basis. I encourage you to look at our own reporting [holds up report] to see our high level of transparency."
Question: "Transparency in revenues, profits and taxes is fast becoming a hot issue for companies regarding sustainability and reputation. And, I can see that revenues are reported by country on page 93 of the annual report. However, we can only see tax split by UK and non-UK in the taxation section. Given the company's good work reporting revenue by country, can you explain why we do not also report tax in the same way, by country?"
Answer: The company confirmed that it complies with all statutory requirements. Company agreed to stay in touch on the issue.
Question: Good afternoon, I am Paul Connolly and I am here as proxy on behalf of ShareAction. ShareAction is an organisation that campaigns for responsible investment. Now the question.
Given that transparency in taxation is becoming a hot topic and that we report revenue by segments of "UK/US and Other", could we, as a demonstration of how transparent we are and want yet further to be, consider reporting tax by these segments too?
Michael McKeon (Finance Director):
We give full disclosure of everything that is required of us by the laws applicable in every country in which we operate. Disclosing more than this may give rise to the release of confidential information.
Question: Would you as a company consider participating in the ongoing discussion around this country level disclosure topic?
As tax is a complicated issue, and there are many agencies that contribute to the legislation, we follow this closely and take the guidance of the FRC (Financial Reporting Council).
Question: "In the Sustainability Report 2011, I note that Shell is committed to ‘greater transparency’ in tax payments for the benefit of building trust between business and communities. Furthermore I am heartened by the on-going commitment as a founding member and board member of the Extractives Industry Transparency Initiative and I understand that Shell submits relevant information to EITI compliant countries.
However, it seems apparent that we lag behind some of our competitors in the breadth and also detail of our reporting. In the report I notice that we do not give full information on the taxes paid in each country of operation which seems a little strange as we report against our ‘statutory weighted effective tax rate’ which would lead me to believe that we could report taxes borne and paid for each country.
Will the Board raise with Shell’s reporting team the possibility of including more detailed information on all taxes in all the countries of operation?"