I see Richard Murphy is saying that Margaret Hodge should summon Vodafone to the Public Accounts Committee over their sale of their interest in Verizon Wireless. This is despite the fact that:
- the transaction didn’t occur in the UK, and
- it would be covered by the Substantial Shareholding Exemption if it had occurred in the UK
Now, for me either of those is a valid reason. I can see how some people might take issue with the first point, but it is irrelevant given the second point. There would be no tax lost in the UK given the second point alone.
So, a quick search on Richard’s website found me what I was looking for: his comments regarding Guardian Media Group’s use of the SSE:
No complicated planning was needed to produce the low tax charge on the sale of this interest: the government has since 2002 provided that Substantial Shareholdings Relief is due when an asset of this sort is sold and no tax is due. The Guardian was, therefore, being tax compliant: the company is doing what the government wants, and for which it provides a relief. It would appropriate to criticise the government for introducing a tax relief of this sort: the Guardian cannot be criticised for using it when the law required that it be applied.
It’s worth noting that Richard is consistent about criticising the relief, but it is interesting to see how he has changed his thinking from that last sentence when the company in question is Vodafone rather than the Guardian.