Wednesday, 18 March 2009

A less than taxing campaign at the Guardian

I see that the Guardian's Tax Gap campaign continues - this time with a tale of how Barclays Bank has obtained a court order banning the paper from publishing documents showing how the bank set up companies to avoid hundreds of millions of pounds in tax.
No doubt this is a worthy crusade - and one in which Guardian journalists should be able to draw on large resources of in-house tax expertise to assist them with their scoops.
It is almost a year to the day that, buried on page 25, the newspaper published a small notice which read: "Guardian Media Group plc, parent company of the Guardian, in partnership with Apax Partners, has incorporated a new company registered in the Cayman Islands as part of its proposed acquisition of Emap plc."
"The tax arrangements of Apax Partners and GMG for the acquisition of Emap plc are completely legitimate, and are based on accepted practice and the recommendation of our advisers. This is not about GMG avoiding tax - indeed we have paid an average of 34pc tax over the last five years."
Naturally, the structure which was "not about GMG avoiding tax" ended with the media group admitting that it would pay, er, less duty.
Irony, some call it.

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