Fair Tax Mark’s 2019, and what’s next in 2020
2019, another year of strong growth and innovation
The Fair Tax Mark realised a number of landmarks in 2019, making it our most impactful year yet. A big thank you to all those in business and civil society who have done so much to help us grow our collective influence and reach.
The number of Fair Tax certified businesses passed the ’50’ milestone in March, with the year seeing new certifications for FTSE-listed plcs (United Utilities, Severn Trent and Eurocell), social enterprises (Suma Wholefoods, Southern Co-op, Community Leisure UK, Energy4All and VME Retail) and a range of private enterprises (Affinity Water, Munnelly Group and M&M Underwriting). A full list of our growing number of accredited businesses is available here.
We are excited to now be working with new initiatives such as Business in the Community’s Responsible Business Tracker and the Good Business Charter – both of whom recognise that tax conduct should be a consideration of any serious corporate responsibility programme. Their requirements involve low-bar commitments, but will serve to precipitate discussion in the business community and both schemes overtly identify the Fair Tax Mark as the long-term meaningful way to secure high-bar recognition.
We ran our second Fair Tax Week in July, kindly sponsored by SSE and Pennon. This included well attended Parliamentary receptions in London (co-organised with the APPG Responsible Tax) and Edinburgh (with the Co-operative Party), and the release of polling that found record levels of concern among the public about the use of tax avoidance practices by business in the UK. It also found that more people than ever before would change who they shop with to favour a business that is Fair Tax Mark certified. The dates for Fair Tax Week 2020 have now been announced as 13-21 June, with Tax Justice Sunday on 14th June, and we anticipate that it will be the biggest and best yet.
During Fair Tax Week, we launched the Councils for Fair Tax Declaration, which was quickly signed by Oxford, Oldham, Peterborough, Bingley, Cannock Chase and Greenwich. It has been heartening to see the breadth of political support there is for this initiative, which is being supported by the Barrow Cadbury Trust. Several more councils are actively working with procurement and finance officers to consider their support, and we expect to see many more signing the Declaration in the near future. Copies of the Declaration, together with guidance notes and a sample motion, are available here.
In September, we announced that the Fair Tax Mark aims to ‘go international’ in 2020. Research funding from Luminate has enabled us to explore what ‘Fair Tax’ looks like outside the UK, and the scope for new standards that would enable businesses across the globe to be certified for the first time. There is a pressing need for us to develop international standards given we are being approached more and more by businesses from outside of the UK. Moreover, regulators, investors and municipalities across the globe are telling us that they want to encourage Fair Tax Mark accreditation (or equivalent) in their jurisdictions.
We ended 2020 with a bang. There was the release of a report on the ‘Silicon Six and their $100bn global tax gap’, which was covered by media outlets across the world – from CNBC and Fortune in the United States through to the Guardian and Daily Mail in the UK. You can hear our Chief Executive discussing the Report on the US national public radio network, NPR, here.
This was followed by our listing in the 2019 edition of the ‘Global Tax 50‘ by International Tax Review – which offers “a rundown of the most influential individuals, organisations, geopolitical events and trends in the tax world.”
Looking ahead to 2020 and beyond
The year 2020 may turn out to be a seminal year for tax justice. The new UK Government has pledged to cancel the planned reduction in corporation tax from 19 to 17%, although it remains to be seen if this welcome announcement survives the challenges of Brexit and those who still long for the country to become Singapore-on-Thames. Internationally, the likes of Facebook and Google are now facing digital sales taxes in France, Spain and elsewhere, and the OECD is seeking to find a way to ensure that multinationals “pay tax wherever they have significant consumer-facing activities and generate their profits”. Albeit, the current United States administration seems minded to derail these and related measures that seek to ensure that profitable companies pay a minimum rate of tax, wherever they operate.
At the Fair Tax Mark, we will continue to advocate responsible tax conduct and urge progressive businesses to step forward and ‘say what they pay with pride’. We plan to expand our impact in the UK, whilst also establishing new accreditation standards that will allow us to certify businesses incorporated outside the UK for the first time.
Once again, a big thank you for everyone’s help and support through the year.
Paul Monaghan, Chief Executive
We believe that that accreditation standards, think tanks and public policy campaigns should be open and honest as to their sources of grant funding, which is detailed on our website alongside our Financial Statements here.