The world’s first Fair Tax Mark has been launched in a bid to address the issue of responsible tax. Businesses that have been accredited by the new mark have demonstrated that they are transparent about the tax they pay.
The mark indicates that a company is making a “genuine effort” to be open and transparent about its tax affairs and pays the right amount of corporation tax at the right time and in the right place. Estimates suggest that corporate tax avoidance in the UK is currently around £12 billion each year.
Following the high profile cases of tax avoidance in the UK last year, which saw companies such as Google, Starbucks and Amazon implicated, a poll from the Institute of Business Ethics found that corporate tax avoidance was the number one concern of the public in terms of business conduct.
In December last year, a committee of MPs claimed that HM Revenue and Customs had “lost its nerve” in the fight against tax avoidance by multinational corporations.
Margaret Hodge MP, chair of the Public Accounts Committee, has supported the Fair Tax Mark. She said, “I think this is a fantastic idea. The reaction to the revelations about the tax practices of big names like Starbucks, Amazon and Google shows that this is an issue the public really cares about.
“Given the choice, many people would prefer to give their custom to a responsible business that does the right thing and pays its fair share of tax.”
The Fair Trade Mark allows consumers to easily identify which firms are paying the correct amount of tax, enabling them make informed decisions about where they place their money. Midcounties Co-operative, Unity Trust Bank and the Phone Co-op have become the first businesses to be accredited by the initiative.
Richard Wilcox, managing director of Unity Trust Bank, said, “We delighted to be the first bank in the UK to receive the Fair Tax Mark accreditation. As a socially responsible bank, Unity seeks to be transparent in all that we do and matters of taxation are no different.
“Established as a bank to promote the common good, we believe a fair tax system is vital for society to thrive. Businesses have a duty to pay a fair share and to invest in the UK economy and society as a whole.”