We at the Fair Tax Mark are concerned, like you I’m betting, at the stories we are seeing of big corporations with connections to tax havens trying to secure unconditional Government bailouts.
We fully support the UK Government’s general aim to make available unprecedented financial support to businesses and workers impacted by the Covid-19 economic lockdown – for example, via the furloughing job retention scheme.
However, a number of business sectors are now requesting special treatment and calling for bespoke bailout packages, such as Richard Branson and the airline sector.
If such bailouts progress, we believe that they should be accompanied by a set of fair tax conditions – in other words, a Fair Tax Lockdown. The conditions we are putting forward are practical, proportionate and will have a material impact on future tax conduct. These are actions that Fair Tax Mark accredited businesses are undertaking already: everyone from the Co-op to Lush to Richer Sounds.
If a business is not actively involved in tax avoidance, these conditions can quickly and easily be committed to. If it is… well then, it will need to change its ways.
1. Publish a fair tax policy: no tax avoidance, no tax havens, no profit shifting
Businesses must publish a binding tax policy that explicitly shuns tax avoidance, the artificial use of tax havens and profit-shifting. Too many multinational companies avoid paying their fair share by fudging where their profits were really made: across the world, some £400 billion of global corporate profits are shifted annually to tax havens. Companies must abide by both the spirit and the letter of the law.
2. Publish your real profits, loss and tax paid on a country-by-country basis
To tell if businesses are abiding by their policies, they must lift the lid on their accounts and publish their profits, loss and taxes paid on a country-by-country basis. After all, companies that have done nothing wrong should have nothing to hide
3. Publish your real owners and beneficiaries
Businesses must be up front as to who the ultimate beneficial owners of the company are and those with significant control. Anonymously owned companies are one of the key tools used by money launderers and tax evaders to hide their illicit gains. Clarity on ownership and control allows law enforcement and tax inspectors to follow the money and make sure everyone is paying a fair share of tax. Let’s be honest here: anything less looks rather shady.
The public agrees: research has found that three-quarters of the UK public would rather shop with or work for a business that can prove that it is paying its fair share of tax.