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One minute with... Dominic Mathon

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What’s keeping you busy at work?

I can’t remember a time when there’s been so much volatility in the external world, whether it’s big changes to domestic rules in countries like the US, the influence of EU law or the impact of BEPS. On top of that there’s Brexit, where we’re uncovering unforeseen challenges such as the loss of derivative benefits in treaties between the US and third countries, when the UK ceases to be part of the EU/EEA. There’s plenty keeping us busy from an internal perspective too: we have a very exciting, dynamic business, that’s constantly evolving, and we’ve also recently announced plans to simplify our dual parented structure.

If you could make one change to UK tax law, what would it be?

Make it shorter. We’re all struggling under the burden of the UK’s complex and lengthy tax code. If the US – however imperfectly – can reform its tax code fundamentally in just 500 pages of double-spaced text, how do we in the UK manage to take 150 pages of legislation (and some 300 pages of guidance) just to implement new corporate interest restrictions? I’d like to see the UK take a less prescriptive and more purposive approach to tax legislation, rather than trying (and still failing) to legislate for every eventuality. And it feels like a gimmick, but perhaps we need to apply a ‘one in, two out’ approach to tax rules if we’re ever to get more focus on rationalising and simplifying the existing code.

What’s the key tax challenge facing your industry sector?

Like many other companies, we’re trying to keep up with almost daily developments around taxation of the digital economy. Keeping track of all the new proposals and unilateral measures around the world feels like an industry in itself. There’s a real sense from policymakers that ‘something must be done’, and much creative work to try to rationalise why taxing rights should be attributed to market jurisdictions or where the user-base is located (to the extent that can actually be determined). In my view, any attempts to ringfence the ‘digital economy’ are quite artificial and will struggle to keep up with the pace of change in business models. In reality, existing tax principles are more than adequate to tax the right profits in the locations where the value really is created – it’s just that politicians don’t like the outcomes!

What’s your view on outsourcing of tax work? How do you strike the right balance between keeping control in-house and outsourcing?

All in-house tax functions are striving to do more with less. My approach is to look at ruthless prioritisation, automation, in-sourcing and out-sourcing, in that order. At RELX, we’re lucky that we have so many fantastic tax professionals within our LexisNexis business, so we’re finding more and more ways to work together. Of course, we are a global business, so we do have to rely on external advisers in a number of countries but managing our tax strategy and partnering the business must remain with the in-house team, and that’s where we’re focusing our resources.

You might not know this about me but…

I’m an enthusiastic, if not very fast, runner. This October, members of my team and I will be running a half marathon in aid of the Bridge the Gap tax charities ( They do fantastic work helping elderly or disadvantaged people get on top of their tax affairs. Often the support these charities provide helps get people back on their feet and can be genuinely life-changing. 

Issue: 1404
Categories: One minute with