Saturday 24 October 2020

Unilever disputes €141m bill issued by British tax authorities for Dutch activities

Anglo Dutch food group Unilever is disputing a €141m tax bill issued by the British tax authorities in a row about what parts of the company are registered in which country.

The charge, which is mentioned in the company’s 2019 report, says the invoice comes as the UK tax authorities review the allocation of taxable income related to intangible assets and centralised services as between the British and Dutch arms, and whether Unilever NV has a permanent establishment in the UK.

The charge relates to 2015 and the final bill could be up to €600m, Unilever said.

‘These arrangements have been in place and consistently applied by Unilever for many years and have been previously reviewed and accepted by the UK tax authorities,’ Unilever says in the report.

‘Unilever strongly disagrees with the positions taken by the UK tax authorities and believes that the positions as filed in UK tax returns are in accordance with the tax legislation.’

‘We continue to defend our position robustly,’ a spokeswoman told DutchNews.nl

The company has now started a dispute procedure which requires the Netherlands and Britain to work out between themselves what tax should be paid where.

London

Unilever said in June it is to unify its group structure into a single parent company based in London. The move will create ‘a simpler company with greater strategic flexibility, that is better positioned for future success’, the company said in a statement.

Since it was founded in 1930, the Anglo-Dutch soups-to-soaps giant has maintained two separate headquarters – in London and in Rotterdam – as well as dual bourse listings and dual fiscal entities. But Unilever has always operated as a single business with a single board of directors.

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