Big Companies Face Glitches in U.K. Global Tax Report Portal

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By Ben Stupples

U.K. government officials are “aware” some multinational companies are struggling to use a recently launched e-portal as they submit their first global tax reports.

“The service, while live and operating well, is still in the testing phase,” a spokesman for the U.K.’s tax authority, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, told Bloomberg Tax in a Dec. 18 email. “There may therefore be short, infrequent downtimes while it receives maintenance and we are aware of a very small number of businesses who have not been able to register for the service.”

It’s the first time HMRC has publicly acknowledged glitches within the service, which was supposed to be available over the summer but was delayed until last month. HMRC stressed in the statement that its online service has been available to companies for the “vast majority” of the time since it launched in mid-November. Any company that has trouble registering for the service should contact HMRC directly, the statement said.

Known as country-by-country reporting, the filings are the most widely adopted policy from the OECD’s project to curb tax avoidance among multinationals. The measure provides a clear picture of companies’ finances, such as profits and taxes paid, for each country in which they operate.

HMRC’s system has often crashed since its launch when customers have used it, Malcolm Joy, a London-based international tax partner at the global accounting firm BDO UK LLP, told Bloomberg Tax Dec. 13. The system has been “problematic,” he said.

December Filing Deadline

Country-by-country reporting only applies to companies with annual group revenue of at least 750 million euros ($884.3 million).

Under the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s guidance, companies should file their reports within 12 months of the relevant fiscal year. In line with the U.K.’s Finance Act 2015, any company with a calendar year-end for its accounts must file by Dec. 31, 2017.

More than half of the companies listed on the U.K.’s FTSE 100 stock market index have calendar year-ends, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Tax. In total, around 300 U.K. multinationals will have to file country-by-country reports to HMRC, according to an official policy paper.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ben Stupples in London at bstupples@bloombergtax.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Penny Sukhraj at psukhraj@bloombergtax.com

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