Forth Ports Group Tax Strategy
Forth Ports is pleased to publish its Group Tax Strategy – this statement is made by Otter Ports I Limited, a parent company of the Forth Ports Group, and covers all companies which are owned by Otter Ports I Limited.
Otter Ports I Group Tax Strategy
The publication of this strategy statement is regarded as satisfying the statutory obligation under Para 16(2), Schedule 19, Finance Act 2016 for all companies in the UK sub-group. The Group comprises all companies which are owned by Otter Ports I Ltd. In accordance with Para 16 (3) Schedule 19, Finance Act 2016 the Board has considered the 2019 Tax strategy and there are no major changes to be made for 2020. It is effective for the year ending 31 December 2020 and will remain in effect until any amendments are approved by the Board of Directors.
Our approach to Risk Management and Governance Arrangements
We seek to comply with tax law and practice, and compliance for us means paying the right amount of tax at the right time, and involves disclosing all relevant facts and circumstances to the tax authorities, and claiming relevant reliefs and incentives where they are available.
Responsibility for Tax strategy lies with the Senior Accounting Officer for the Group, with oversight by the Board of Directors, who approve the Tax Strategy for the Group. Responsibility for tax governance lies with the relevant Senior Accounting Officer. The Group has two Senior Accounting Officers, one for the Forth Ports Group, and one for the Otter Ports holding companies, who own the Forth Ports Group.
The Tax Strategy is applied consistently to all companies within the Group and is widely understood within the Group.
Group Tax Strategy is informed and underpinned by the Group’s principles:
- Demonstrating Integrity in Corporate Conduct
- Ensuring Openness and Transparency
Reliance is placed upon external tax advisers where there is a need for specialist guidance and support, for example on acquisitions, disposals, restructuring and significant capital projects.
However, responsibility for tax and decisions around tax remain with the Senior Accounting Officers.
Our Approach to Tax Planning and Tax Risk
Tax risk is one of the commercial risks to which the Group is exposed. Management of tax risk aims to ensure that the Group pays and collects the correct amount of tax and meets reporting and disclosure requirements whilst meeting its business objectives.
Our tax team seeks to deliver clear, timely and relevant business advice around tax. The business understands that the tax team needs to be involved at an early stage in order to deliver the most value from the tax advice provided.
We carefully manage the tax risks and costs inherent in every commercial transaction, in the same way as any other cost. Therefore, tax will follow the commercial outcomes, taking account of the need for tax efficiency and our understanding of the currently applicable laws and practice. We do this by frequently monitoring tax legislation to ensure we keep abreast of any changes and ensuring our tax team undertakes regular training.
Where there is uncertainty surrounding the interpretation of tax laws, we will seek second opinions from external tax advisers, having established our own understanding of the position, and/or seek to resolve the uncertainty by dialogue with tax authorities.
Whilst recognising the operational requirements of the Group, where the Group has significant investment decisions, it will seek to structure these in a tax efficient manner.
We do not enter into artificial arrangements in order to avoid taxation or to defeat the stated purpose of the legislation, or consider any tax planning that require DOTAS notification to HMRC.
How much Tax Risk is the Group prepared to accept?
Given the scale of our business and volume of tax obligations, risks will inevitably arise from time to time in relation to the interpretation of tax law and nature of our compliance arrangements.
We take a responsible approach to managing our tax affairs and will always comply with applicable tax laws and regulations, including retaining records and documents used to prepare tax returns and computations for at least the period required by the relevant tax law.
Our approach to tax risks follows the same principles that apply to all other business risks. We consider reputation and corporate social responsibility as well as purely financial impacts.
When making decisions on tax we take into account the materiality of any item, as well as the costs of effective risk mitigation actions. By being tax compliant we aim to minimise tax risk and this is judged on an issue by issue basis.
Our approach to dealings with HMRC
We maintain a transparent and constructive relationship with HMRC in the UK. This includes, where appropriate, regular, open dialogue on significant tax issues and developments in the Group’s business.
We see value in working with tax authorities to agree tax positions and therefore we seek to work with HMRC on a real time basis, where necessary. This involves us disclosing and seeking clearance on material/significant matters in order to gain agreement on the tax implications.