Waterstones Tax Strategy

The tax strategy below has been published in accordance with Finance Act 2016 Schedule 19 Part 2 and covers the year from 26 April 2020 to 24 April 2021. It sets out the strategic tax objectives of the Waterstones group of companies (‘Waterstones’) and has been approved by the Board of Directors of Book Retail Bidco Limited, which is the immediate parent company of all Waterstones trading companies.

The overall objective of this strategy is to ensure that Waterstones pays the correct amount of tax, at the right time, under all applicable laws and regulations. Tax affairs will be conducted with the objective of retaining a low tax risk assessment from HMRC, which will be achieved by meeting the objectives set out in the framework below:

WORKING WITH HMRC

TAX OBJECTIVE DELIVERY OF OBJECTIVE
Engage with tax authorities in an open, proactive and transparent way, to maintain a good working relationship and minimise tax uncertainty Adopt prudent and recognised filing positions, making full and detailed disclosures in submitted tax returns.

Take a proactive approach in the provision of information to HMRC and undertake real time reporting of any significant compliance issues or business transactions.

Maintain an open dialogue with HMRC to promptly resolve issues and points of technical tax uncertainty.

Organise periodic meetings with HMRC to discuss tax compliance.

MANAGING TAX RISKS

TAX OBJECTIVE DELIVERY OF OBJECTIVE
Transactional risk - to minimise exposure to tax risk or uncertainties arising through both routine business operations and one off transactions. The tax function proactively engages with other areas of the business to ensure that tax considerations or issues are raised up-front rather than retrospectively.

Documentation is retained to support the tax treatment adopted on any particular transaction and that tax analysis is based on the actual implementation.

The importance of commercial needs will, in no circumstances, override compliance with applicable tax laws.
Ongoing risk assessment – to manage the group’s tax risk through a continual assessment of risk and the management of the same In order to meet our regulatory and legal requirements, for both Senior Accounting Officer measures and Corporate Criminal Offences, a framework has been put in place which is used to regularly assess, monitor and control tax risk. Updates to processes and controls are made as required.
Reputational risk – to ensure that neither our attitude to tax risk nor any publicity arising from this negatively impacts on our relationships with / how we are perceived by our customers, stakeholders or tax authorities. Embedding tax compliance as a core part of how we conduct our business by applying the principles of integrity and openness and by keeping abreast of changes in tax legislation and seeking professional advice where necessary.

TAX PLANNING

TAX OBJECTIVE DELIVERY OF OBJECTIVE
All significant tax decisions are agreed at an appropriate level within the business. The business prioritises certainty over its tax affairs. While tax efficiencies will be sought in its approach to tax compliance, it applies the over-riding principle of prudence and “low risk” to all tax matters.