Reference to potential Brexit implications and EU State Aid investigation into UK controlled foreign companies rules

Vodafone Group Plc – Annual report – 31 March 2020

Industry: telecoms

6. Taxation (extract)

Factors affecting the tax charge in future years

The Group’s future tax charge, and effective tax rate, could be affected by several factors including: tax reform in countries around the world, including any arising from the OECD’s or European Commission’s work on the taxation of the digital economy and European Commission initiatives such as the proposed tax and financial reporting directive or as a consequence of state aid investigations, future corporate acquisitions and disposals, any restructuring of our businesses and the resolution of open tax issues (see below).

On 25 April 2019, the European Commission published its full decision in relation to its investigation into the ‘group financing exemption’ (GFE) in the UK’s controlled foreign company rules and whether the GFE constituted unlawful State Aid. They concluded the GFE does not constitute unlawful state aid when the managing of the financing activities is outside the UK. As the Group’s Luxembourg financing activities are properly established and operate in accordance with EU and local law as well as the OECD’s transfer pricing guidelines, we do not anticipate any significant impact as a result of the Commissions findings.

We do not anticipate any significant impact on our future tax charge, liabilities or assets, as a result of the UK leaving the European Union on 31 January 2020 but cannot rule out the possibility that a failure to reach satisfactory arrangements for the UK’s future relationship with the European Union at the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020, could have an impact on such matters. We continue to monitor developments in this area.

The Group is routinely subject to audit by tax authorities in the territories in which it operates. The Group considers each issue on its merits and, where appropriate, holds provisions in respect of the potential tax liability that may arise. As at 31 March 2020, the Group holds provisions for such potential liabilities of €638 million (2019: €460 million). These provisions relate to multiple issues, across the jurisdictions in which the Group operates.

As the tax impact of a transaction can be uncertain until a conclusion is reached with the relevant tax authority or through a legal process, the amount ultimately paid may differ materially from the amount accrued and could therefore affect the Group’s overall profitability and cash flows in future periods. See note 29 “Contingent liabilities and legal proceedings” to the consolidated financial statements.