British public votes ‘Corporate tax avoidance’ top ethical concern for incredible 11th year in a row

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Graham Drummond
Head of Communications
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For the past two decades, the Institute of Business Ethics (IBE) has been conducting the Attitudes of the British Public to Business Ethics survey.

The latest survey reveals that ‘Corporate tax avoidance’ is the most pressing issue for an amazing 11th consecutive year. Chosen by 43% of respondents, the findings indicate that business and government are still collectively falling short of public expectations.

Across the globe, close to 40% of multinational profits (US$970bn) are shifted to tax havens each year, leadings to a US$250bn reduction in corporate tax revenue. In the UK, these losses amount to £17bn annually.

Bribery and corruption ranks as the next most significant concern for the second consecutive year, selected by 28% of survey participants. For context, environmental responsibility, including climate change, received a 25% response rate. These findings underscore the need for businesses to address these worries, and show that responsible tax practice is an issue that favours comparably with other ethical concerns.

Our own Fair Tax Nation report, released last month, highlighted the UK public’s overwhelming support for businesses demonstrating responsible tax conduct. A significant majority, 70% in 2023, stated their inclination to “shop with” such businesses, while 72% expressed a preference to “work for” them. Additionally, 73% of respondents believed it is important to recognize and celebrate businesses that pay the right amount of tax, rejecting artificial tax havens and contrived avoidance practices.

Also correlating, our polling findings reveal a similar pattern to those seen in the IBE survey when it comes to age. In both sets of data, there is a notable generational gap regarding corporate tax avoidance. Older respondents in the IBE survey (55+)  exhibited much greater concern than younger individuals (18-34). This trend resonated in the Fair Tax Nation report too, highlighting the significance of addressing tax avoidance concerns across generations.

While the latest IBE survey reveals a concerning decline in public perception of business ethics in the UK, it also highlights an opportunity for businesses to get ahead of the curve when it comes to responsible tax conduct and financial transparency. With corporate tax avoidance a top concern for more than a decade, the British public is demanding businesses say what they pay with pride.

To boost public trust and demonstrate responsible tax conduct, businesses based anywhere in the world can apply for our Fair Tax Mark accreditation. Tax contributions are a key part of the positive social and economic impact made by business, and help the communities in which businesses operate deliver valuable public services like education, healthcare, roads, policing and more.

The global gold standard for responsible tax conduct, the Fair Tax Mark is an independent, third-party certification that shows a business is paying the right amount, in the right place, and at the right time. Fair Tax Mark accredited businesses span a wide range of sectors, and include listed PLCs, co-operatives, social enterprises, and large private companies across the UK and Europe.

Businesses already part of the Fair Tax movement are committed to transparency and responsible tax practices, enabling them to earn public support and contribute to a fairer economy.

Over 100 parent companies and 250 distinct trading businesses currently hold the accreditation. These businesses collectively employ over 250,000 individuals and contribute more than $1.4 billion in corporation tax annually. The Fair Tax Mark offers many benefits for your businesses, but also reassures the public of your commitment to the spirit, as well as the letter, of the law.


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