LSL is one of the largest providers of services to mortgage intermediaries, specialist mortgage and protection advice to estate agency and new build customers and valuation services to the UK’s biggest mortgage lenders. It also operates a network of owned and franchised estate agency branches. The Group operates exclusively in the UK through a range of national and regional brands.
The Group’s republished tax strategy which is set out below has been reviewed and approved by the Board of Directors on 30 July 2021. This strategy will be reviewed and updated annually, following further approvals by the Board. The LSL tax strategy is outlined below, and outlines the Group’s attitude towards tax risk, tax planning and interactions with HMRC.
The publication of this Tax Strategy is required to satisfy the statutory obligation under Para 16(2) Schedule 19 Finance Act 2016 for the current financial year ended 31 December 2021.
The Group is committed to the delivery of the tax strategy and this will be owned by the Group’s Chief Financial Officer, in conjunction with the finance team. This tax strategy applies to all taxes, and the key principles of the strategy are:
- The Group is committed to paying the correct amount of tax due under UK legislation whilst maximising available reliefs in the way legislation intended
- The Group has a low appetite for tax risk, and seeks certainty through open and collaborative dialogue with the relevant tax authorities
- The Group will seek to be proactive in its management of tax risk and in the course of its interactions with tax authorities
Risk Management and Governance
The Group’s greatest tax risk areas are identified by considering areas of high value taxation, new and unfamiliar transactions, or transactions with which there exists inherent tax complexity or uncertainty. Internal focus is directed to these higher risk areas, with external advisors also engaged by Group Finance when required. External advisors will be used to support the Group where additional resource or expertise is required to mitigate these tax risks. UK tax is a significant cost to the Group, and as a result is an area of focus for the Board and the Group’s internal audit function.
Tax is the ultimate responsibility of the Group’s Chief Financial Officer, who is also the Group’s Senior Accounting Officer. The LSL’s Group Finance function develops the Group’s tax strategy and underlying policies, and ensures that appropriate knowledge and training is in place across the Group. Within central finance function there is a Group Tax Manager who, along with the finance functions within the operating businesses, manages day to day taxation matters excluding payroll taxes. The calculation and deduction of payroll taxes (including benefits) is managed by the Human Resources department, although this process is controlled by policy and process documents which are managed centrally.
This Group seeks to arrange its affairs in such a way as to ensure that it maximises all available claims and reliefs under UK tax legislation and in the manner in which the legislation was intended. The Group will continue to have a strong focus on compliance with all applicable tax legislation.
Assessing and Mitigating Risk
Taxation risk is mitigated through internal procedure and the use of specialists where appropriate. Where there is uncertainty over a tax filing position, the Group will seek specialist external advice or liaise with HMRC on a real-time basis around the transactions to discuss the appropriate tax treatment. Further to seeking specialist advice, there may still exist inherent risk and uncertainty with regards to a specific filing position. When assessing the level of any remaining risk the Group will seek to take a balanced and cautious approach taking additional third party advice as appropriate.
Relationship with HMRC
The Group is committed to working collaboratively with HMRC, through open and transparent dialogue to ensure it is compliant with all of its compliance and filing obligations. The Group has a proactive working relationship with HMRC will continue to engage with HMRC on a real-time