‘Fair Tax Nation’ report reveals a deeply concerned UK public, who want Government to get much tougher on corporate tax transparency – and also a worrying fall in trust in HMRC
The Fair Tax Foundation has released the report Fair Tax Nation: UK public attitudes to corporate tax conduct, which analyses the results of seven years of polling of the UK public. The research is supported by Fair Tax Mark accredited Unity Trust Bank, and the report launches on the eve of Fair Tax Week 2023 – which runs June 8-18th.
The report reveals that the UK is very much a Fair Tax Nation, with the vast majority of the UK public showing a strong propensity to ‘shop with’ and ‘work for’ businesses that demonstrate responsible tax conduct – with support at levels that compares favourably to other ethical concerns. There is also a strong desire to see a ‘celebration’ of those businesses that pay the right amount of tax, and who overtly shun the artificial use of tax havens and contrived tax avoidance practices.
Significantly, the UK public also want to see the Government do much more to ensure that all businesses, both large and small, pay their fair share of tax. An overwhelming majority of the public believe that:
– multinational businesses should be forced to disclose how much income, profit and tax they pay in each country in which they operate;
– small business should also have to publicly disclose the taxes that they do or don’t pay in the UK;
– all businesses benefiting from Government bailouts should have to agree to a set of conditions that prohibit tax avoidance and enforce responsible tax conduct;
– public procurement tenders (be they national or local) should consider a company’s ethics and how they pay their tax, as well as value for money and quality of service.
The report also uncovered a potential emerging area of concern. The UK public heavily favour HMRC (and Fair Tax Mark accreditation) as trusted verifiers of good corporate tax conduct. However, trust in HMRC in 2023 has fallen to the lowest seen. The fall in trust in HMRC is likely a consequence of the much publicised challenges it has faced as significant numbers of staff were redeployed to work on Brexit and Covid 19 support schemes. HMRC opened fewer tax enquiries and prosecuted far fewer people for tax evasion during the pandemic. Tax revenue directly attributable to HMRC compliance activities has fallen.
Paul Monaghan, Chief Executive, Fair Tax Foundation said:
“The UK public care about many issues, but ‘tax justice’ is consistently at the top of their concerns when it comes to corporate conduct. The country is very much a Fair Tax Nation, with the vast majority of the UK public wanting to see Government do much more to ensure that all businesses, both large and small, pay their fair share of tax. Politicians have a real mandate for action. There needs to be a step change in tax transparency, especially by multinational enterprises. The days of the likes of Amazon refusing to disclose what their income, profit and corporate taxes are in the UK need to end.”
“The fall in trust with HMRC is worrying. There is a significant correlation between tax morale and tax compliance. Put simply, you are far more likely to pay your taxes if you think everyone else does so. Conversely, if you think that your neighbours are ‘at it’, then you are much more likely to seek to dodge taxes yourself. HMRC does excellent work, but it is under resourced, despite the fact that for every £1 that HMRC spends on compliance activities, it recovers £18 in additional tax revenue. The UK Government needs to pursue a step change in the resourcing of HMRC’s compliance activities – this will not only enable the recovery of billions in lost revenue, but also ensure that trust in this venerable institution is rock solid.”