New tax certification highlights responsible companies

The world’s first Fair Tax Mark has been launched in a bid to address the issue of tax transparency

A Fair Tax Mark has been created to indicate that a company is making a “genuine effort” to be open and transparent about its tax affairs and pay the right amount of corporation tax at the right time and in the right place.

The mark aims to allow consumers to easily identify which firms are paying the correct amount of tax in order to help them make informed decisions about where they place their money.

Estimates suggest that corporate tax avoidance in the UK is currently around £12bn each year and a poll from the Institute of Business Ethics in 2013 found that corporate tax avoidance was the number one concern of the British public in terms of business conduct.

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 following high profile cases, which saw companies such as Google, Starbucks and Amazon implicated.

Margaret Hodge MP, chair of the Public Accounts Committee, supports the Fair Tax Mark. “I think this is a fantastic idea,” she said. “The reaction to the revelations about the tax practices of big names shows that this is an issue the public really cares about and given the choice, many people would prefer to give their custom to a responsible business that pays its fair share of tax.”

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The Phone Co-op, Midcounties Co-operative and Unity Trust Bank were among the first businesses to be accredited by the new initiative.

Richard Wilcox, managing director of Unity Trust Bank, said: “We are 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.”

This article was first published by Blue&Green Tomorrow.