Page last updated at 14:46 GMT, Sunday, 4 May 2008 15:46 UK

UK bosses issue warning on taxes

Shire's Basingstoke office
Shire will pay less tax in Ireland

The bosses of some of Britain's biggest blue-chip firms have warned that more companies will move offshore if controversial tax proposals go ahead.

The Treasury may change the rules on tax paid by UK groups on dividends from their overseas operations.

It could see firms paying more tax on foreign income, although the government says other changes would offset this.

The warning comes after British drug making giant Shire announced plans to move its tax domicile to Ireland.

Shire's move means the company will pay a tax rate of 12.5% in future, rather than the 28% in the UK.

The Sunday Times reported that a delegation from the Multinational Chairmen's Group, which brings together some of the world's most powerful companies, issued the warning at a Downing Street meeting 10 days ago.

It said that delegation included the bosses of HSBC, Vodafone, Astra Zeneca, Glaxo Smith Kline, BAE Systems, British American Tobacco, Shell and BP.

Regular discussions

A Treasury spokesperson said the government conducted regular and ongoing discussions with businesses on the shape of these proposals.

"It is our intention that any reform would exempt foreign dividends from tax. And that any changes would be broadly revenue neutral."

A spokesman for Glaxo confirmed that its new chief executive Andrew Witty attended the meeting.

"We believe that the UK business environment has to be realistic so it doesn't impair our ability to compete globally," the spokesman said.

"And it is important that government ensures that the UK is an attractive location for companies that have headquarters here."

However, the spokesman said that Glaxo, Britain's biggest drug company, had no plans "at present" to move.

Drugs firm to quit UK tax regime
16 Apr 08 |  Business

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