Here’s how the UK public want to see businesses treat corporation tax

Tax avoidance has changed from being taught to being actively shunned. This shift in attitude can be seen right across all sections of society, from policymakers to investors to business leaders – and, not least, in public opinion.

For Fair Tax Week this year our latest polling results show the UK public are committed to celebrating businesses that explicitly reject the artificial use of tax havens and contrived tax avoidance practices.

The UK – with its commitment to a 25% corporation tax rate and having increased its corporation tax take from £41bn to £103bn per year over the past decade – has a chance to be a leader in this space. And it seems this is something the UK public would like to see.

Our polling of 2,000 UK adults conducted in April this year found well over two-thirds (70%) believe the UK should take the lead and force multinational businesses to disclose how much income, profit and tax they pay in each country in which they operate. The same number (71%) also want to see all sizes of UK businesses publicly disclosing the taxes they do or don’t pay in the UK.

This year’s UK opinion poll is sponsored by SSE plc, the largest renewable energy generator in the UK and Ireland and the first FTSE 100 business to achieve the Fair Tax Mark. SSE are a responsible tax conduct trailblazer, with the firm’s tax reporting earning them numerous awards alongside the trusted independent verification that comes with a Fair Tax Mark. The business’ Talking Tax report has for many years provided stakeholders with a clear and accessible account of what taxes SSE pay and where, voluntarily going beyond what is required by law.

Martin McEwen, Head of Tax at SSE, said: “We’re pleased to see the public agrees with our appetite for greater tax transparency by business, with three-quarters (75%) wanting UK businesses to disclose their tax policies.”



Building trust

For businesses, the outcome of embracing shifting attitudes towards responsible tax and demands for greater transparency can be increased trust – from customers, clients, staff and all other stakeholders.

Trust, as business leaders know, can be make or break, and yet the Ipsos Global Trustworthiness Monitor reported in 2023 that less than a third of the global public trust business leaders to ‘tell the truth’ (30%) or ‘generally behave in an ethical way’ (29%).

At the Fair Tax Foundation, we know the value of independent verification in building trust. And the UK public do too, with nearly five times as many respondents to our polling (32%) trusting a third-party verification such as the Fair Tax Mark to provide company tax information as the company itself (7%).

An accreditation like the Fair Tax Mark builds trust in other ways too – with 70% of respondents saying they would rather work for and shop at a business that can prove it is paying its fair share of tax. In fact, well over half (59%) of people would trust a business with the Fair Tax Mark more than one without it and 48% would even switch businesses as a result.

Tax avoidance courses are a thing of the past, and for businesses developing more responsible tax practices, the future is bright.  


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