Our tax strategy is designed to support Shell in delivering our Powering Progress strategy. We provide our support through our commitment to compliance, transparency and open dialogue with our stakeholders, from governments to civil society. Our strategy and actions reflect our Shell values and principles.
The Board of Directors of Shell plc approves our tax strategy, regularly reviews its effectiveness and maintains a sound system of risk management and internal control.
The Executive Vice President Taxation and Controller is responsible for tax matters and provides assurance based on our tax control framework.
The Audit Committee assists the Board in maintaining a sound system of risk management and internal control and oversight over Shell’s financial reporting. A variety of standing matters and more specific topics are discussed by the Audit Committee throughout the year.
Annually the Board conducts a review, to its satisfaction, of the effectiveness of Shell’s system of risk management and internal controls which includes financial, operational and compliance controls, including tax controls.
Responsible tax principles
The B Team Responsible Tax Principles were developed by companies, including Shell, civil society, investors and representatives from international institutions. We adopted the B Team Responsible Tax Principles as our own. The Shell Responsible Tax Principles guide our decisions on tax matters
We are committed to compliance. We seek to comply with the letter and the spirit of the tax laws wherever we have a taxable presence. We expect to pay tax on profits where the business activity took place. When available and appropriate, we use tax incentives and exemptions.
Our aim is to take sustainable tax positions in support of our business investments, many of which are of a long-term nature. We plan our tax activities efficiently within boundaries set by our principles and overall tax strategy, and balance this with the aim of preserving value for shareholders. We do not define an acceptable level of tax risk, but rather we aim for certainty on tax positions.
Where tax law is unclear or subject to interpretation, we evaluate whether our position is more likely than not to be upheld and, where appropriate, seek an external opinion. We also escalate these uncertain tax positions to the Tax Leadership Team for their review and advice to the Business.
We seek to resolve uncertainty in the interpretation of tax laws directly with tax authorities, including through advance tax agreements. We may also seek a co-operative compliance approach, which involves regularly and proactively engaging with tax authorities and providing them with real-time information before filing the tax return.
These arrangements offer an opportunity for early resolution, minimising the risk of future disputes. Where necessary, we will seek a clear resolution through the judicial system to test the legal principle of the tax law concerned.
Our tax and finance staff supported the filing of around 42,000 tax returns in 2021. We aim to adhere to international best practices and aim for accuracy and timeliness when we fulfil our tax filing obligations.
Our tax control framework, policies and guidelines set out the standards, controls, risk management and assurance that establish boundaries for our tax activities. Our tax control framework helps us to identify tax risks and sets out practical guidance for our staff, including the procedures for considering tax risks.
All ventures that we operate must conduct their activities in line with our business principles. The tax control framework is part of the Shell Control Framework, which applies to each Shell entity, including its employees and contract staff and to Shell operated ventures. We monitor the adequacy of our system of risk management and internal controls throughout the year.
Our tax and data systems evolve continuously to deal with the growing demand for information from authorities.
We do not condone, encourage or support tax evasion. Compliance with all applicable laws and regulations of the countries in which we operate is embedded in the Shell General Business Principles and the Code of Conduct. Employees, contract staff and third parties with which Shell has a business relationship may raise ethical and compliance concerns, anonymously if preferred, through the Shell Global Helpline.
We regularly monitor relevant changes and developments in tax systems. We review our corporate and financing structures to confirm that our presence in all countries, including low-tax jurisdictions, is grounded in substantive and commercial reasons.
Shell may seek the support of an external adviser where specialist technical expertise is required that is not available within Shell or where additional resources are required.
We aim for an open dialogue on tax matters with governments, policymakers, businesses, investors, and civil society. Since 2003, we have taken important steps to be more transparent about the taxes we pay.
Our participation in the development of the B Team Responsible Tax Principles reflects our ambition to align our tax strategy more closely with emerging best practice.
Our Tax Contribution Report and future publications aim to demonstrate how we are applying our Responsible Tax Principles.
Open to dialogue
Shell welcomes the opportunity to work with others in areas of shared interest. Our approach to tax considers the interests of relevant stakeholders. Through engagement with thought leaders, other companies, investors and civil society, we stay informed of developments that may impact our business.
We regularly engage with policymakers to support the development of tax rules and regulations based on sound tax policy principles. In this way, we hope to contribute to the development of fair, effective and stable tax systems.
We also provide constructive input to industry groups and international organisations, such as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), the B Team Responsible Tax Working Group (B Team) and Business at OECD, an international business network.
Shell contributed to updating the Best Practices for Business Engaging with Tax Authorities in Developing Countries [A], launched by Business at OECD in November 2022. The updated best practices can be used to support efficient and effective tax policy administration. We endorse these principles and aspire to use them. Read more in Our work with the EITI.
[A] Source: Business at OECD (BIAC), Statement of Best Practices for engaging with tax administrations in developing countries, November 2022