20 Feb 2014 08:59am

Fair Tax Mark scheme launches

A new measure of gauging a company’s tax affairs is launching today, which its founders say will bring in a more responsible approach to tax by business

The Fair Tax Mark, which claims to be the first independent accreditation scheme to address the issue of responsible tax, will give companies a score out of 20 based on their tax procedures.

The Mark works by rating companies on a series of facts, including their tax compliance, having a clear tax policy, a registered address for the company, narrative disclosure and tax rate paid.

Having no tax policy instantly costs the company five points.

Richard Murphy, one of the founders of the Fair Tax Mark said, "Around the world and here in the UK people are now aware that many big businesses routinely fail to pay the taxes they really owe. What they now want to do is spend their money with those companies who are doing the right thing by seeking to pay the fair tax that they owe in the right place at the right time.”

“The Fair Tax Mark is designed to allow consumers to identify those businesses who are paying their fair share of tax. This makes the Mark the next step in the campaign for tax justice."

Murphy told economia that the scheme had received a great deal of feedback last year when the concept was first debated, and been modified based on some of the criticisms.

The first businesses to be accredited include Midcounties Co-operative, Unity Trust Bank and The Phone Co-op. Fair Tax Mark currently only rates UK and UK trading companies.

The scheme has also received the endorsement of Margaret Hodge MP, who has been an active critic of the tax arrangements of many multinational companies.

Hodge, who is also chair of the Public Accounts Committee said, “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.”

HMRC declined to comment on the particulars of any specific scheme, but a spokesperson told economia, "The vast majority of businesses pay the tax they owe. We clamp down on the minority who bend or break the rules."

Helen Roxburgh


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