AT a time when many despair at the scale of tax avoidance by big businesses, one organisation is providing a simple solution: help companies to be proud to say what they pay.
Launched in 2014, the Fair Tax Mark certification scheme allows those unfamiliar with the complexities of corporate accounts to see who pays their fair share of taxes and to change their spending habits accordingly.
And it’s not just helpful to consumers; it’s an idea proving popular among businesses keen to do the right thing, with Lush, the Co-op and SSE among the 50 businesses to sign up to date.
Fair Tax Mark, a Manchester-based community benefit society, has found so many businesses are keen to prove their credentials that it has doubled the number it has accredited in less than two years.
Paul Monaghan, chief executive at Fair Tax Mark (pictured below), said: “From the outset we’ve been determined to celebrate those businesses that are proud to pay their fair share of tax, in the right place and at the right time.
“At a time when the public is growing used to headlines about big corporates shifting profits to tax havens and minimising the contributions they make to the public purse, it’s refreshing to know that there are organisations who are proud to say what they pay.”
At the time Fair Tax Mark was founded, there was an emerging understanding of the major exponents of tax dodging, but not who the proponents of good tax conduct were. Inspired by the impact of accreditation schemes such as Fairtrade and Living Wage, Fair Tax Mark was developed to identify businesses paying fair corporation tax.
In order to achieve the Mark, the team works with applicants to be transparent about their tax affairs. They advise them on how to publish accessible information about their tax approach and how to improve their accounts.
The vast majority of companies Fair Tax Mark work with approach them and even if more work needs to be done, Fair Tax Mark is committed to working constructively with businesses over time.
Widespread use of tax havens are estimated to cost the UK £7bn a year in corporate tax revenues. But there is a willingness among some to change.
“Corporation Tax is often presented as a burden, but it shouldn’t be," Paul said. “Not when considered against the huge array of public services it helps fund - from education, health and social care, to flood defence, roads, policing and defence. It also plays a crucial role in holding the whole tax system together – helping to counter financial inequalities and rebalance distorted economies.”
- The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust makes a grant to Fair Tax Mark in order to support an increase in the number of Fair Tax Mark certified businesses. The grant is made as part of JRCT’s Power and Accountability programme.
- Read more about Fair Tax Mark here