Shell’s approach to tax
The payment of taxes is a central link between Shell and the countries and communities where we operate. It is a vital part of our contribution to national economies and people’s lives.
When we invest in a country or location, we seek to build long-term relationships and develop our business sustainably. We recognise our responsibility towards investors, governments, suppliers, employees, and the local communities we are part of. The taxes we collect and pay represent one of the ways in which we embrace this responsibility.
Our tax strategy is designed to support Shell in delivering its strategic ambitions.
We do this by seeking to comply with the applicable tax laws wherever we operate, being transparent about our approach to tax and taxes paid and open to dialogue with governments, businesses, investors, and civil society.
The Board of Directors of Royal Dutch Shell approves our tax strategy, regularly reviews its effectiveness, and maintains a sound system of risk management and internal control. The Executive Vice President Tax and Controller is responsible for tax matters and provides assurance based on our internal tax control framework. The Board of Directors is updated annually on our tax risks and our adherence to our tax strategy. The Shell Responsible Tax Principles guide decisions on tax matters.
We seek to comply with the letter and the spirit of the tax laws wherever we operate and expect to pay tax on profits where the business activity took place. Where offered and appropriate, we apply tax incentives and exemptions.
There can be instances when we interpret tax laws and their application differently from tax authorities and this can lead to disputes. In all cases, we seek to resolve any uncertainty directly with tax authorities, for example through advance tax agreements and a cooperative compliance approach. These offer an opportunity for early resolution, minimising the risk of future disputes. Where necessary, we will seek a clear resolution through the judicial system to test the legal principle of the tax law concerned.
Our tax and finance staff support the filing of tens of thousands of tax returns every year. When we fulfil our tax filing obligations, we aim to adhere to international best practice and aim for accuracy and timeliness. Our tax control framework, policies and guidelines set out the standards, controls, risk management and assurance that establish boundaries for our tax activities.
Our tax control framework also sets out practical guidance for our staff, including the procedures for considering tax risks. Our tax and data systems evolve continuously to deal with the growing demand for information from authorities. External auditors regularly review our tax controls as part of the audit of our financial results.
We do not condone, encourage or support tax evasion. Compliance is embedded in the Shell General Business Principles and the Code of Conduct. Employees, contract staff, and third parties with whom Shell has a business relationship may raise ethics and compliance concerns, anonymously if preferred, through the Shell Global Helpline.
We regularly monitor relevant changes and developments. For example, we review our corporate and financing structures to confirm that our presence in all countries, including low-tax jurisdictions, is grounded in substantive and commercial reasons. Shell may seek the support of an external adviser where specialist technical expertise is required that is not available in-house, or where additional resources are required.
We strive for an open dialogue on tax matters with governments, policymakers, businesses, investors, and civil society. We have taken important steps over the past 15 years to be more open about the taxes we pay.
Our participation in the development of the B Team Responsible Tax Principles reflects our ambition to align our tax strategy more closely with emerging best practice. Our Tax Contribution Report and future publications aim to show how we are applying our Responsible Tax Principles.
OPEN TO DIALOGUE
We welcome the opportunity to work with others in areas of shared interest. Our approach to tax considers the interests of relevant stakeholders, including our investors who expect us to behave prudently by seeking long-term value rather than only short-term gain.
We regularly engage with policy makers to support the development of tax rules and regulations based on sound tax policy principles. Through this, we hope to contribute to the development of fair, effective and stable tax systems.
We also give constructive input to industry groups and international organisations, such as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), the B Team Responsible Tax Working Group (B Team), and the OECD Business and Industry Advisory Group (BIAC).
Through engagement with thought leaders, other companies, investors, and civil society, we stay informed of relevant developments. For example, through these discussions we developed our approach to encourage governments to publish tax incentives and associated contracts in line with our Responsible Tax Principles and the revised standard on contract transparency published by the EITI.
In 2018, we endorsed the B Team Responsible Tax Principles. These were developed by the B Team Tax Working Group with input from non-governmental organisations. In 2019, we adopted these Principles as our own.
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Shell does not condone, encourage or support tax evasion, and is committed to implementing procedures to prevent anybody employed or contracted to Shell or acting on Shell’s behalf facilitating the evasion of tax.
The Tax Contribution Report is an important move for Shell towards greater transparency around our approach to paying taxes, and aims to offer a deeper understanding of our principles and actions in this area.
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