The National Audit Office (NAO) has concluded that Vodafone’s £1.25 billion settlement with the UK tax authorities in 2010 was “good” from the perspective of the UK taxpayer and “represented fair value for the wider taxpaying community”.
In December 2011, the NAO was asked to report to the UK House of Commons Public Accounts Committee on the reasonableness of settlements agreed between Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and large companies to resolve recent tax disputes. The NAO was assisted in its review by Sir Andrew Park, who concluded that HMRC were “right” to settle the nine year-long dispute with Vodafone at £1.25 billion “because, if the case had not been settled, it would have gone to litigation. If this had happened, there was a substantial risk that the Department [HMRC] would have received nothing.”
Vodafone Group Chief Financial Officer Andy Halford said: “For more than a year, Vodafone has been falsely accused of improper conduct. As we have consistently stated, those attacks were unwarranted and unjust. We acted with the utmost propriety throughout the HMRC settlement process, and the National Audit Office has now concluded that the outcome was good for the UK taxpayer. We welcome this vindication. Vodafone has always been a responsible company with a strong commitment to managing our affairs properly and diligently within the law and with full disclosure to all relevant tax authorities.”
“Vodafone is a long-standing and significant contributor to the UK as a whole, not least in our role as the biggest dividend payer in the UK. We returned £6.7 billion in cash to our shareholders this year, who include virtually every major investment fund relied upon by millions of UK pensioners and savers.”
Further details of the NAO report can be found at:http://www.nao.org.uk/publications/1213/settling_large_tax_disputes.aspx
Although anonymised, the Vodafone settlement is clearly identifiable and is discussed in detail under “Case D” in Appendix 1.
Further background on the Vodafone/HMRC settlement can be found at:http://www.vodafone.com/content/index/media/faqs_statements/vodafone_tax.html