Tax Strategy for the year ending 31 March 2020

Principal operations and document scope:

Cancer Research UK (CRUK or the Charity) is the world’s largest cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research. The vision of the charity is to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured, from the most common types to those that affect just a few people. Our approach to tax seeks to support this vision in a responsible manner.

The principal taxes paid by CRUK and its subsidiaries are payroll taxes and VAT. In relation to VAT, CRUK is subject to general VAT rules but qualifies for specific charity reliefs and exemptions. It is generally exempt from corporation tax and capital gains tax provided that the income gains concerned are used for charitable purposes, and claims tax back from HMRC on personal donations made using Gift Aid.

Governance and approach to risk management

Our tax strategy is governed by the Audit Committee on behalf of the Council, which has ultimate responsibility for the Charity’s tax affairs.  Day-to-day responsibility for implementing the strategy rests with our Finance Regulatory and Taxes Manager, who reports to the Chief Financial Officer. The Chief Financial Officer reports regularly to the Audit Committee on key aspects of compliance and on an ad hoc basis if the need arises. To meet our compliance obligations, the Finance Regulatory and Taxes Manager is supported by two in-house tax and accounting professionals.

CRUK actively seeks to identify, evaluate and manage all tax risks; controls and processes have been implemented to ensure that the likelihood of risks materialising and their impact are minimised. When there is significant uncertainty or in particularly complex cases, external advice may be sought. CRUK plays an active role in contributing to the UK charity tax policy-making process, including through participation in the Charity Tax Group (CTG), and uses the resources available from the CTG to aid decision making. 

Attitude towards tax planning

CRUK will seek to utilise only the reliefs and incentives that are available to us in accordance with our charitable and trading activities, and any resulting savings are reinvested in CRUK’s core activities in furtherance of its charitable purposes. CRUK does not engage in aggressive tax planning. We seek to identify, declare and pay on a timely basis all amounts properly owing to HMRC.

The level of risk CRUK is willing to accept in relation to UK taxation

Our approach to tax risk follows the same principles that apply to other risks to which CRUK is exposed. Maintaining our reputation with stakeholders and upholding high standards of corporate social responsibility are key considerations in assessing risk and we will always seek to do the right thing to this end. Although our assessment of risk will inevitably also take into account the materiality of any item, we do not set defined limits on what is acceptable risk.

Approach to working with HMRC

CRUK seeks to engage an honest, open and constructive relationship with HMRC in relation to all tax affairs. All dealings with HMRC are conducted in a professional manner and we aim to avoid unnecessary disputes with HMRC. Where necessary, formal or informal clearance will be sought from HMRC on uncertain tax positions and we endeavour to share all relevant information with HMRC.

The Finance, Regulatory and Taxes team takes account of HMRC’s own risk-based approach to compliance and CRUK seeks to be viewed by HMRC as always being transparent and acting with integrity, and therefore as “low risk”.

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