This document and its publication on Bird & Bird's website represents the fulfilment of the requirements of paragraphs 16 (2) and 25 of Schedule 19 Finance Act 2016. This strategy applies to Bird & Bird LLP and its UK affiliated entities and is approved by the Board of Bird & Bird.
This strategy is designed to reflect the Values of the firm as defined in the Members' Agreement of the LLP. The Values reflect principles of behaviour which underpin the common culture of the firm. The Values include the expectation that partners will conduct their personal financial affairs in a way which does not bring the LLP into disrepute.
Approach to Tax
In accordance with the firm's Members' Agreement it is the responsibility of all Members to pay the right amount of tax on a timely basis to the appropriate taxation authority in relation to their remuneration from Bird & Bird. The firm's internal tax function assists Members in meeting this obligation.
It is the firm's responsibility to pay the right amount of tax to the appropriate taxation authorities where the obligation to pay such a tax is an obligation of the firm.
The firm has a low risk attitude towards tax matters and is committed to being a responsible and compliant tax payer in the UK and in all other countries in which we operate. The firm's reputation is a critical part of its ability to win clients and develop deep and long-standing relationships with those clients. As a result, the firm does not engage in tax planning which is aggressive or contrived or which might be considered as such and could damage the firm's reputation.
The firm expects its Members and employees to behave in the same fashion.
Management of Tax Risk and Governance
Bird & Bird is a large and complex business operating in many counties through a variety of different structures as a result of the different regulatory, tax and liability provisions in these countries. As a result, there can be uncertainty over the correct treatment of certain tax matters especially when they are cross-border and relate to different tax jurisdictions.
To manage that tax risk, the firm employs a team of qualified tax professionals in its internal tax function to handle its day to day tax affairs. The firm's Members' Agreement also expects that the tax affairs of all Members, in respect of their Bird & Bird profit share, are dealt with by the internal tax function or one of our chosen external providers.
Where the internal tax function identifies significant risk or uncertainty over a tax matter, the issue is reported to the Chief Finance Officer who has a seat on both the firm's Risk Committee and Executive Committee. Matters of significant risk will require the input and advice of external professional advisers who will provide advice which is in accordance with this strategy. Any proposed action in relation to a tax matter of significant risk will require the approval of the Risk Committee or Board as appropriate.
The firm will structure its activities in the most appropriate way from all commercial and economic respects. This usually has tax consequences; however the firm does not enter into schemes or make arrangements where the sole or primary purpose is to save tax.
The firm and its Members will make use of available allowances and reliefs which form part of legislation but the commercial or economic reality of the situation will not be artificially manipulated to benefit from those allowances or reliefs.
Relationship with HMRC
Through our Customer Compliance Manager (CCM) we provide HMRC with regular updates on the strategy and the performance of the business.
On an annual basis at least and more often if necessary we describe and discuss with HMRC forthcoming transactions or developments which might have a tax effect in order to clarify any significant uncertainties in advance. We respond in a timely and detailed fashion to any request for information made by HMRC and we are open and transparent in our approach to new legislation and how it affects our business.
We conduct these discussions in an open, honest and co-operative environment in order to facilitate understanding and to seek resolution consensus in an appropriate way.
In accordance with the governance provisions in this strategy, if after having taken advice from external providers about an area of uncertainty, the firm takes a position which it believes to be correct and defensible then the firm will take the necessary action to defend that position. Throughout, however, we will work with HMRC to facilitate understanding of our conclusion and resolve any disagreement in a transparent way and with integrity.