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Tax strategy

For the year ending 31 December 2020
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Tax is an important corporate sustainability issue  for Handelsbanken plc (hereafter ‘Handelsbanken’ or ‘the Bank’) and its policies for sustainability and ethical standards are one of the starting points for handling  tax-related matters. 

This strategy document sets out the approach of Handelsbanken and its UK subsidiaries to conducting its tax affairs and dealing with tax risks. The document has been approved by Handelsbanken’s board and will be reviewed by the Board on an annual basis. 

The strategy is considered to comply with the requirements of Schedule 19 of Finance Act 2016.


Governance

The chief financial officer (CFO) of Handelsbanken has the ultimate responsibility for tax related matters in Handelsbanken and to ensure that this strategy is implemented in the UK group.

The UK Tax department has the overall functional responsibility for tax-related matters in the UK which includes issuing instructions and guidelines and follow-up and support regarding tax matters to all units. If significant tax risks arise within Handelsbanken, the UK head of tax must immediately report these to the CFO and to the Board Audit Committee.


Compliance

All functions in Handelsbanken are required to follow tax laws, regulations, and international agreements in the tax area, complying with legislators’ intentions and ensure that they are applied in all business transactions, both internal and external, as well as to all products and services provided by Handelsbanken.  The Bank must report and pay tax in accordance with local regulations in the UK. As part of its transparent actions in tax-related matters, Svenska Handelsbanken AB will prepare a country-by-country report showing the Bank’s earnings and tax in the UK.


Risk management

Handelsbanken proactively seeks to identify, assess and manage any material tax risks  through a well-established governance structure, qualified in-house staff, robust internal control and review processes,  and engaging with external advisors where required.


Attitude towards tax planning

Handelsbanken has a conservative view towards tax risks and disassociates itself from any participation in tax evasion on its own account or on behalf of another party. Good ethical standards must always be taken into consideration when providing products and services or performing transactions. These standards are explained in greater detail in Handelsbanken’s Ethical Standards policy as well as in the Sustainability policy. These policies state that the Bank must not participate in transactions or provide products that may be called into question in the light of prevailing tax regulations. In practice this means the following: 

Internal and external transactions carried out by the Bank within its  own operations must always have a genuine business purpose and must not be carried out when the only, or one of the main, purposes is to obtain tax advantages in conflict with the objective of the tax regulations. 

Services and products provided by the Bank must always have a genuine business purpose or personal financial objective, and the Bank must not provide products or services where the only, or one of the main purposes, is to obtain tax advantages in conflict with the objective of the tax regulations.  

Further, the Bank must not – directly or indirectly - participate in transactions, through granting credit or otherwise with respect to customers, which constitute a step in tax evasion or in artificial transactions without a genuine business purpose, when the only, or one of the main, purposes is to obtain tax advantages in conflict with the objective of the tax regulations. If there is any doubt, the Bank must refrain from participating. 


Tax advice

In the UK, tax advice and tax compliance services may only be provided  by Handelsbanken subsidiary, Heartwood Wealth Management Ltd.  In other circumstances, customers must be referred to external advisers. In this context, it should be noted that information about the tax implications of Handelsbanken’s products and services is not normally regarded as providing tax advice.


Relations with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC)

In the UK, Handelsbanken has adopted and complies with HMRC’s Code of Practice on Taxation for Banks. In its dealings with HMRC and other tax authorities, all  communication must be open, and constructive with the objective of upholding good relations. When appropriate, Handelsbanken will endeavour to be proactive, and communicate with HMRC on a real-time basis to minimise any tax risk arising.