Vodafone says paid no UK corporation tax in two years

Fri Jun 7, 2013 7:20pm EDT
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By Tom Bergin

LONDON (Reuters) - Vodafone Group Plc (VOD.L: Quote) said it paid no corporation tax in Britain for the year to March 2013, prompting fresh criticism from campaigners who have made the UK mobile telephone group a target in the debate on corporate tax payments.

Revelations of profit shifting by big companies have provoked anger among austerity-weary citizens across Europe and political leaders have pledged to act.

Vodafone's annual report published on Friday said the absence of a UK income tax bill for the second year running reflected tough operating conditions at its British operations.

Reported profits at Vodafone's main UK unit have collapsed in the past decade, even as sales rose sharply. The company said the cost of buying its third generation (3G) phone license and falling profit margins weighed on UK earnings, although both factors were also observed at its German unit, which has continued to report big profits and tax bills.

UK press including British investigative magazine Private Eye have noted strong profits at Vodafone's subsidiaries in Luxembourg, where it has few customers or employees but where companies can enjoy tax rates below 1 percent.

Vodafone Procurement Co Sarl, which buys equipment for the group, reported profits of 215 million euros ($284.2 million) for the year to March 2012 and paid no income tax, according to accounts for the period, the most recent for which figures are available.


Vodafone Luxembourg 5 Co Sarl, which lends money to other group units, reported profits of $2.43 billion for the year to March 2012 and reported a tax bill of less than 1 percent, its accounts show.   Continued...

A pedestrian passes a Vodafone store on Oxford Street in central London, November 10, 2009. REUTERS/Kevin Coombs