2021: A breakthrough year for tax justice and the Fair Tax Foundation

By Paul Monaghan
Chief Executive
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This year has been equally amazing and exhausting, for both the Fair Tax Foundation and tax justice more broadly.

Operationally, we have undergone a radical overhaul – with a new organisational name and new head office progressed during the year.  We have expanded our board (welcome Harriet) and staff numbers (welcome Esme, Nora and Greg) and finally taken the leap and ‘gone international’.

In November, we announced the launch of a new Global Multinational Business Standard and the accreditation of Vattenfall, who are one of Europe’s largest producers and retailers of electricity and heat. This was a momentous milestone for us. With the launch of the new Global Multinational Business Standard, which has taken two years to develop, the Fair Tax Mark is now open to any multinational enterprise in the world. A big thank you to Luminate for substantially enabling our international expansion.

At the same time, the list of Fair Tax certified businesses headquartered in the UK passed the ‘70’ milestone, with the year seeing new certifications for a range of businesses, including Mace, Welsh Water, Ethical Property, Chelmsford Star, GOVR, ROO, Lamplight and MAPS Medical Reporting.

The number of municipalities in the UK supporting our Councils for Fair Tax Declaration also grew, with Birmingham, Sunderland, Tyneside, Lambeth and Cheshire West and Chester among those newly signing up. Our localities work is generously funded by The Barrow Cadbury Trust and we are also grateful to have received funding from Trust for London to work closely with businesses and public institutions in Greater London over the next two years.

In June, we organised our annual Fair Tax Week, which celebrates companies and councils that are proud to promote responsible tax conduct and pay their fair share of tax. This year the event was scaled back and virtual, but there was still much to shout about, as our Head of Communications outlined in his end of week blog post.

By an amazing coincidence, this year’s Fair Tax Week coincided with the UK hosting a G7 gathering of world leaders at which global tax reform was finally on the top table. We worked hard with friends at Tax Justice UK and Tax Justice Network to push for a just and equitable outcome, and I’m delighted to say that there was much to celebrate. Not least agreement on a new global minimum tax that will potentially curtail the activities of many tax havens, and the fact that the UK is no longer leading the race to the bottom on corporation tax among major economies. Which isn’t to say that much, much more is needed (as set out in this open letter that we subsequently co-ordinated); or that a real test of the new global deal will be the base on which the new global minimum tax is applicable. We’ve seen all too often that with tax, the devil is in the detail.

By and large, the Fair Tax Foundation focuses on encouraging and recognising business that pay the right amount of corporation tax at the right time and in the right pace. We generally leave politics and naming and shaming to others. But when a massive opportunity presents itself (as did the G7 summer gathering in the UK) or where an enormous injustice needs to exposed (such as with our Silicon Six work), we will engage with society in a polite and constructive manner. Not least, as it presents a fresh opportunity to talk about the great work of our accredited Fair Tax Mark businesses!

The Fair Tax Mark is the gold standard of responsible tax conduct, but it’s only around because of the fantastic support we have out there from business and civil society for which we are immensely grateful.

Here’s to a restful and healthy end of year, and an even more fair tax future.