Vodafone exposure attacked

Link: Crackdown on avoidance sparks fear of exodus

Jonathan Symonds, chairman of the Hundred Group of Finance Directors, said: ‘It’s not constructive at all. I think until we find some practical way forward on this, it’s counter-productive.’

Symonds said that business is not against Gordon Brown’s tax avoidance disclosure plans, because it will help to drive uncertainty out of the tax system.

‘It gives us, ultimately, more certainty in terms of what works and what doesn’t work,’ he said. But the uncertainty caused by the Treasury’s attack on the mobile-phone giant, which could ultimately go to the courts and take up to four years to conclude, ‘defeats that object’.

Symonds, who is also chief financial officer at drugs giant AstraZeneca, went on to say that ‘there is the beginnings of a productive dialogue’ between the leaders of big business and government.

A Vodafone spokesman said the company had yet to decide whether to seek a tribunal or to stump up the £15m at stake over its use of the tax scheme in question.

A spokeswoman said the Treasury would not publicise companies using tax avoidance schemes.

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