Tesco responded to an investigation by The Guardian into its tax
affairs by suggesting there were better stories elsewhere in UK corporate tax,
it has emerged.
The suggestion is contained in a 34-page writ filed with the High Court
demanding damages from the newspaper over allegations that Tesco set up an
offshore arrangement to avoid up to £1bn in corporation tax.
The comment is likely to highlight the issue of corporate tax avoidance and
which companies engage in the most aggressive planning.
The writ quotes an email from Lucy Neville-Rolfe, Tesco’s director of
corporate and legal affairs, to Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger.
‘There really is no story here and I would urge you to look elsewhere for
genuine examples of businesses that pay little corporation tax rather than
pursuing a leading British business that paid in excess of £1bn in taxes last
year,’ she wrote.
The supermarket group and the newspaper are involved in a legal battle over
the tax avoidance claims. Tesco says its Cayman structure will generate stamp
duty savings considerably smaller than the sums referred to by The
Guardian, and that it will not avoid corporation tax through the move.
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