Small businesses unite for fairer tax

Companies in Crickhowell, south Wales, are together using tax loopholes to mimic corporate tax avoidance and force change

Business owners in Crickhowell business are trying to build a campaigning army of 500 Fair Tax Towns across the UK.

These towns will send a message to the government that unless tax loopholes are closed, their small companies will join big business in turning to tax avoidance schemes to only pay minimal proportions of their profits into the UK economy.

In Crickhowell, traders are being advised by experts and followed by a BBC television crew. Family-run shops have sent their own ‘DIY tax plan’ to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), mimicking the offshore arrangements made by some global brands.

If the vision for 500 Fair Tax Towns becomes a reality, they would collectively represent around £1bn of annual tax revenue – the amount of tax avoidance HMRC has advised would be needed for the threat to be taken seriously. Around £20bn a year is thought to be lost from the UK economy in corporate tax avoidance via legal loopholes.

Crickhowell coffee shop owner Steve Lewis is one prominent Fair Tax Town campaigner. He said: “We lose around £1.5m a year in a small town such as Crickhowell because of legal tax avoidance tactics. This money is needed in our community at a time when, for example, we’ve got people out desperately trying to raise cash for vital medical operations for their neighbours.”

The Crickhowell businesses will concurrently run a ‘heroes and villains’ campaign.

Lewis said: “We will be naming and shaming directors at the biggest tax avoidance companies, highlighting their lifestyles and bonuses alongside, for example, the 67-year-old Crickhowell woman raising thousands for children’s operations.”

Businesses in the town that are getting involved include a salmon smokery, coffee shop, book shop, optician and bakery.

So far, 16 towns across the UK have joined the Fair Tax Town initiative.

Photo: Jeff Thomas, owner of an outdoor adventure clothing shop in Crickhowell, which is part of the Fair Tax town initiative. Credit: Fair Tax Town