To set the matter straight, this is their profit and loss account:
And this is the relevant note to the accounts:
Now let’s be clear: what this shows is that on trading the effective rate of tax was 46%. If good will were added back to profit the rate would be about 21%, a rate that is low largely because much of the profit came from the disposal of assets. If that were adjusted for then the rate would be above the statutory rate. There is nothing abnormal to comment on as a result.
The low charge is on the exceptional part sale of the Auto Trader group. No complicated planning was needed to produce a low tax charge: the government allows for tax to be deferred in this case if funds are reinvested. The Guardian did reinvest the funds. That’s not artificial, offshore, or complex. Indeed, it is tax compliant: the company is doing what the government wants, and for which it provides a relief.
So let’s stop the nonsense about low tax rates now: it’s just wrong.