But Tax is bad, isn’t it?
This idea that tax is the common enemy of all people has led some companies to think that it is somehow acceptable to manipulate their business structures and accounting practices to avoid paying their contribution. But this attitude is not just self-serving, it is also short sighted, because those taxes are what will keep the infrastructure of our society in place and deliver healthy customers to our doors on well maintained, clean, lit streets.
At their hearts, the public know that education, health services, welfare and social care structures are essential and need to be paid for from the collective purse – and they resent any company who evades these tax responsibilities whilst they, as individual members of the public, have no way to opt out of the tax deductions from their own wage packet.
At Lush, we believe that we should pay a fair tax in each of the countries in which we operate. We will take advantage of legitimate business tax structures and benefits available in each country – but we will never search for loopholes or devise schemes that stretch the rules beyond their obvious intended purpose.
Lush wants our customers to have a safe living environment, to have access to good education and efficient healthcare services – and we know that taxes are needed for this. As a company, we feel we should contribute back into the societies from which we trade by being a good employer, by trading fairly with our suppliers and by paying our taxes into the collective purse.
Whilst we acknowledge our obligation to pay tax, here at Lush we also recognise our right to speak out about how those taxes are spent by governments. We will continue to publicly campaign on a variety of issues and press for a kinder, fairer society, so that all of us can pay tax into a system we can feel proud of and which supports everyone in society equally.
Ethics Director, Hilary Jones, December 13th 2013.
LUSH ETHICAL TAX POLICY
At Lush we are proud of our products and proud of our ethics. In addition to our existing “We Believe” (Lush Values) statement below, we have developed our Ethical Tax Policy to ensure that our staff, our customers and our suppliers are clear about our company structure and our commitment to paying our taxes.
LUSH VALUES STATEMENT:
“We believe in buying ingredients only from companies that do not commission tests on animals and in testing our products on humans.
We invent our own products and fragrances, we make them fresh by hand using little or no
preservative or packaging, using only vegetarian ingredients and tell you when they were made.
We believe in happy people making happy soap, putting our faces on our products and making our mums proud.
We believe in long candlelit baths, sharing showers, massage, filling the world with perfume and in the right to make mistakes, lose everything and start again.
We believe our products are good value, that we should make a profit and that the customer is always right.
We also believe words like ‘Fresh’ and ‘Organic’ have an honest meaning beyond marketing”.
LUSH TAX STATEMENT:
We believe not only in paying tax in accordance with all relevant laws and regulations in the territories in which we operate but also in not using complicated tax loopholes to take advantage of legal but essentially questionable tax schemes.
We believe that we should pay the right amount of tax in each country and not overpay taxes in any country.
We believe that we should pay our taxes on time and agree payment plans with local tax authorities in advance where this may not be possible, for example where seasonal cashflow constraints are anticipated.
We believe we should have a clear Transfer Pricing Policy to ensure that the way we charge between our Inventing, Manufacturing and Retail companies is transparent, arm’s length and properly documented, and that it complies with local laws
We believe we should be open and honest in all dealings with tax authorities.
We believe in operating our business in the simplest possible way with decisions being driven to serve our customers, to encompass our values, to look after our staff and to generate a profit and not by tax planning or the use of tax havens for avoidance purposes.
We believe our group tax rate should be determined by the sum of the parts and not something that is targeted.
We believe local companies should claim the proper statutory reliefs in the countries in which they operate and should never use marketed or abusive tax avoidance schemes.
We believe in giving guidance to our Finance Teams to help them make the right tax decisions (see Criteria below).
The overall tax policy focuses on 2 key tax areas; transparent disclosure and clear responsibility:-
Openness, honesty and transparency are paramount in all dealings with tax authorities.
From 2014 we chose to provide a country-by-country breakdown of the taxes incurred in the countries in which we operate and some key financial information alongside this to improve our transparency and enable the readers of our UK consolidated annual accounts to understand the results and effective tax rates – and perhaps encourage other businesses to follow suit (see Appendix I).
We are extremely flattered and proud to have been awarded the Fair Tax Mark in response to our open and transparent approach to our tax affairs. Lush was the first High Street multinational company to be awarded the Mark which is an accreditation scheme awarded to companies making a genuine effort to be open and transparent about their tax affairs. As stated by Richard Murphy, co-founder of the Fair Tax Mark, at the time of the Mark being awarded in February 2015 “this is genuinely ground-breaking for a multinational in the retail sector”.
Responsibility for agreeing, issuing and communicating our Lush Tax Policy sits with the Group Finance Function on behalf of Mark Constantine and The Board and in conjunction with Hilary Jones, Lush’s Ethics Director.
A copy of the Lush Tax Policy is available to all staff and is published on the lush.co.uk website along with our Ethics, Green and other policies.
Responsibility for all tax reporting and adherence to the Lush Ethical Tax Policy sits with the local Finance Directors in each Country.
Group Finance are responsible for establishing arm’s length transfer pricing policies which will be documented and implemented with the local FDs.
The local FDs and controllers are responsible for understanding the local tax legislation and procedures for the countries in which they operate and for keeping up to date with and complying with all applicable laws, rules and disclosure requirements.
They are also responsible for filing all tax returns on time and as accurately as possible.
The FDs should develop good working relationships with tax authorities and respond in a friendly, timely and professional manner to their requests.
Where the tax treatment or reporting requirements of specific items are unclear, professional advice should be sought by the Finance Director or Finance Teams, who are encouraged to seek external tax advisor advice, where required.
FDs should notify the Group Finance function of any specific tax issues arising in their country.
The FDs are responsible for all internal tax reporting; including the following:-
Calculating all tax charges in accordance with group accounting policy
Providing timely, complete and accurate report per the annual reporting packs (see Appendix II)
Responding to ad hoc tax requests in a timely manner.
Our charitable giving focus remains on innovative, effective giving through support of small, grassroots organisations working in the areas of environment, human rights and animal protection. We aim to support causes and organisations that are overlooked by others and also address the root causes of issues through campaigns, education and activism. Our support is not limited to registered charities. We also give donations to campaign groups and other organisations which are not registered with the Charity Commission. Local tax regulations may allow a deduction for donations, irrespective of whether the group or organisation is a registered charity, however the availability of a deduction should not be the determining factor in making donations in line with our policy of charitable giving.
CRITERIA FOR MEASURING TAX DECISIONS:
We recognise that tax is a complex subject and that sometimes help will be needed to evaluate our business decisions in relation to tax. As a guide our criteria are as follows:
Is what we are doing in pursuit of our commercial goals and in line with our values?
Is it simple?
Is the tax treatment for it technically correct?
What is the impact on our customers?
What is the impact on our employees?
What is the impact on our shareholders?
What is the impact on the societies in which we trade?
How much does it cost?
OVERVIEW OF GROUP COMPANY STRUCTURE:
Whilst our tax policy is driven by simplicity and transparency it is important to understand that we are in the business of manufacturing and retailing beautiful handmade cosmetics as well as inventing new products; some of which are protected by patents and trademarks. We are proud to have invented the bath bomb and our inventors work hard to deliver innovative and effective solid products to minimise the use of packaging (e.g. solid shampoo bars).
Lush is therefore more than just one company and we control the various parts of the organisation by operating the different business disciplines as separate companies.
Lush Cosmetics Limited is the holding company for our businesses that develop, manufacture and retail fresh handmade cosmetics.
A company called Cosmetic Warriors sits outside the group for accounting and tax purposes but for transfer pricing purposes it is a connected party and transactions with Lush companies are at arm’s length. This is a UK trading company that creates, holds and protects the Intellectual Property (IP) rights, trademarks and patents for our beautiful products. Cosmetic Warriors charges a licence fee for the use of the IP. As long as our inventors continue to live and invent our products in the UK, the company holding their patents and trademarks will reside and be taxed here too.
Lush Limited produces all the Lush fragrances and Essential Components (ECs) which they sell on to those countries who have manufacturing facilities. This avoids the need to transport bulk finished product around the world thereby helping to reduce the environmental impact of our operation. All manufacturing countries pay the same price for the fragrances and ECs they buy.
GUIDANCE FOR EMPLOYEES
If any member of staff suspects any individual of not adhering to our Ethical Tax Policy they should report this on our Whistleblowing line, in total confidence, on 07795 485 760 (+ 44 7795 485760 from outside the UK).
For more details on the Tax Policy or to discuss specific issues within it, please contact Kim Coles ([email protected]) who prepared the first version of this policy on behalf of The Board in December 2013.
KIM COLES; DECEMBER 2013
Last updated by Kirsty Belsey: September 2015