Contingent liability, EU State Aid investigation, group financing exemption, transfer pricing settlement, tax judgements, risks

Diageo plc – Annual report – 30 June 2018

Industry: food and drink

  1. Contingent liabilities and legal proceedings (extract)

(g) Tax

The international tax environment has received increased attention and seen rapid change over recent years, both at a US and European level, and by international bodies such as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Against this backdrop, Diageo has been monitoring developments and continue to engage transparently with the tax authorities in the countries where Diageo operates to ensure that the group manages its arrangements on a sustainable basis.

In October 2017, the European Commission opened a state aid investigation into the Group Financing Exemption in the UK controlled foreign company rules. The Group Financing Exemption was introduced in legislation by the British government in 2013. In common with other UK-based international companies whose arrangements are in line with current UK CFC legislation, Diageo may be affected by the outcome of this investigation. Diageo is monitoring developments. If the preliminary findings of the European Commission’s investigation into the UK legislation are upheld, Diageo calculates its maximum potential liability to be approximately £250 million. Based on its current assessment, Diageo believes that no provision is required in respect of this issue.

During the year ended 30 June 2018, Diageo reached agreement with HM Revenue & Customs in the United Kingdom in respect of transfer pricing and related issues. See note 7 (Taxation) for further information.

Diageo has also been in discussions with the French Tax Authorities over the deductibility of certain interest costs. During the year the French Tax Authorities issued assessments denying tax relief for interest costs incurred in the periods ended 30 June 2011 to 30 June 2017. Diageo believes that the interest costs are deductible and accordingly is challenging the assessments from the French Tax Authorities. Including interest and penalties, the exposure for the periods ended 30 June 2011 to 30 June 2018 is approximately €241 million (£214 million). Based on its current assessment, Diageo believes that no provision is required in respect of this issue.

  1. Taxation (extract)

Accounting policies

Current tax is based on taxable profit for the year. Taxable profit is different from accounting profit due to temporary differences between accounting and tax treatments, and due to items that are never taxable or tax deductible. Tax benefits are not recognised unless it is probable that the tax positions are sustainable. Once considered to be probable, tax benefits are reviewed each year to assess whether a provision should be taken against full recognition of the benefit on the basis of potential settlement through negotiation and/or litigation. Tax provisions are included in current liabilities. Penalties and interest on tax liabilities for the year ended 30 June 2018 are included in operating profit and finance charges, respectively. In prior years penalties and interest on tax liabilities were provided for in the tax charge.

Full provision for deferred tax is made for temporary differences between the carrying value of assets and liabilities for financial reporting purposes and their value for tax purposes. The amount of deferred tax reflects the expected recoverable amount and is based on the expected manner of recovery or settlement of the carrying amount of assets and liabilities, using the basis of taxation enacted or substantively enacted by the balance sheet date. Deferred tax assets are not recognised where it is more likely than not that the assets will not be realised in the future. No deferred tax liability is provided in respect of any future remittance of earnings of foreign subsidiaries where the group is able to control the remittance of earnings and it is probable that such earnings will not be remitted in the foreseeable future, or where no liability would arise on the remittance.

Critical accounting estimates and judgements

The group is required to estimate the corporate tax in each of the many jurisdictions in which it operates. Management is required to estimate the amount that should be recognised as a tax liability or tax asset in many countries which are subject to tax audits which by their nature are often complex and can take several years to resolve. Current tax balances and tax provisions are based on management’s judgement and interpretation of country specific tax law and the likelihood of settlement. However the actual tax liabilities could differ from the provision and in such event the group would be required to make an adjustment in a subsequent period which could have a material impact on the group’s profit for the year.

The evaluation of deferred tax assets recoverability requires judgements to be made regarding the availability of future taxable income.

(a) Analysis of taxation charge for the year


(i) Includes the impact as a consequence of the reduction in the US Federal tax rate (from 35% to 21%) enacted by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) in the United States.

(b) Exceptional tax (credits)/charges

The taxation charge includes the following exceptional items:


(i) The exceptional tax credit of £354 million ($478 million) resulted from applying the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), enacted on 22 December 2017, in the United States. The credit principally arose on remeasuring the deferred tax liabilities in respect of intangibles and other assets for the change in the US Federal tax rate from 35% to 21%, resulting in an exceptional tax credit of £363 million ($490 million), which is partially offset by £9 million ($12 million) exceptional tax charge in respect of repatriation of untaxed foreign earnings. In addition, there was a one-off charge of £11 million ($15 million) to other comprehensive income and equity, in respect of the remeasurement of the deferred tax assets on post employment liabilities and share-based incentive plans as a result of applying the provisions of the TCJA.

(ii) In its interim announcement for the six months ended 31 December 2017, Diageo reported that discussions were being held with HMRC to seek clarity on Diageo’s transfer pricing and related issues, and that a preliminary assessment for diverted profits tax notice had been issued. Final charging notices were issued in August 2017 and Diageo paid £107 million in respect of the two years ended 30 June 2016. Diageo agreed in June 2018 with HMRC that diverted profits tax does not apply and at the same time has reached resolution on the transfer pricing issues being discussed. The agreement in respect of transfer pricing covers the period from 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2017 and has resulted in an additional UK tax charge of £143 million. In the year ended 30 June 2018 an additional tax charge of £47 million has been recognised in current tax which is based on the approach agreed with HMRC.

(iii) A deferred tax asset of £21 million has been written off in respect of the difference between the book value and tax written value of industrial buildings in the United Kingdom.

(c) Taxation rate reconciliation and factors that may affect future tax charges


(i) Changes in overseas tax rates are mainly due to the application of the TCJA. Excludes impact of remeasurement of deferred tax liabilities due to US tax reform, which is included in changes in tax rates in the table above.

(ii) Other items not deductible include irrecoverable withholding tax, controlled foreign companies charge and additional state and local taxes.

The table above reconciles the notional taxation charge calculated at the UK tax rate, to the actual total tax charge. As a group operating in multiple countries, the actual tax rates applicable to profits in those countries are different from the UK tax rate. The impact is shown in the table above as differences in overseas tax rates. The group’s worldwide business leads to the consideration of a number of important factors which may affect future tax charges, such as: the levels and mix of profitability in different jurisdictions, transfer pricing regulations, tax rates imposed and tax regime reforms, acquisitions, disposals, restructuring activities, and settlements or agreements with tax authorities.

Significant ongoing changes in the international tax environment and an increase in global tax audit activity means that tax uncertainties and associated risks have been gradually increasing. In the medium term, these risks could result in an increase in tax liabilities or adjustments to the carrying value of deferred tax assets and liabilities. See note 18 (g).

The principal change in the reported tax rate for the year ended 30 June 2018 is principally driven by the changes enacted by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) in the United States on 22 December 2017 and effective from 1 January 2018.

The group has a number of ongoing tax audits worldwide for which provisions are recognised based on best estimates and management’s judgments concerning the ultimate outcome of the audit. As at 30 June 2018 the ongoing audits that are provided for individually are not expected to result in a material tax liability. The current tax asset of £65 million (2017 – £nil) and tax liability of £243 million (2017 – £294 million) includes £231 million (2017 – £287 million) of provisions for tax uncertainties.

How we protect our business (extract)