Public want to see UK Government intervene more robustly to encourage responsible tax planning by business

By June 6, 2018News

New research* commissioned by the Fair Tax Mark reveals that the public want to see the UK Government intervene much more robustly to encourage responsible tax planning by business.

Three quarters (74%) of those questioned support a call for all companies, whatever their size, to publicly disclose the taxes that they do or don’t pay in the UK – with just 4% of the public disagreeing. Currently small businesses are not required to disclose their profits and taxes paid, and can file abridged accounts at Companies House.

And 6 in 10 (59%) believe that the Government and local councils should consider a company’s ethics and how they pay their tax as well as value for money and quality of service provided – with just 15% agreeing that contracts should be awarded regardless of ethics and tax conduct. Currently, tax conduct is rarely, if ever, factored into public procurement.

Three times as many people disagree as agree (49% vs 16%) with big accountancy firms such as KPMG, PwC, Deloitte and Ernst & Young being able to sell tax avoidance advice to businesses whilst auditing the accounts of those same businesses. The public now take little or no assurance from a standard audit statement. Just 1 in 10 (11%) trust a company auditor to confirm that a business is paying the right amount of tax, compared to 36% trusting an independent accreditation scheme such the Fair Tax Mark and 48% trusting HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

The public is split in terms of whether the Government should reduce the amount of tax companies pay in order to attract foreign investment into the country to create UK jobs. Just over a quarter (28%) say it should, a third (34%) say it should not, and 38% do not know.

The figures have been released ahead of the Fair Tax Conference 2018, 7th June. This is the marquee launch event of the UK’s first ever Fair Tax Fortnight, June 9–24, which will celebrate those companies and organisations that are proud to pay their fair share of corporation tax and the positive contribution this makes to society.

CEO Paul MonaghanPaul Monaghan, Chief Executive, Fair Tax Mark said: “Our research has found that the majority of the UK public want to see radical change in the area of tax reporting and auditing, and they want to see public procurement take much more account of responsible tax planning.

Following the collapse of Carillion, two parliamentary committees recently called on the Government to carry out an ambitious and wide-ranging set of reforms to reset our systems of corporate accountability, and urged them to refer the statutory audit market to the Competition and Markets Authority. Our research indicates that the public would be strongly in favour of this, but would also like to see companies of all sizes reporting on the profits made and taxes paid. Moreover, they would like to see public procurement leveraged to encourage responsible tax planning.”

Margaret Hodge MP, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Responsible Tax, who will be speaking at the Fair Tax Conference, said: “This research shows that tax avoidance and evasion are still major concerns for the public, despite recent moves to crack down on this behaviour. The Government is now committed to introducing public registers of beneficial ownership in the British Overseas Territories; this is a small but powerful provision that marks a significant change in how tax havens operate and it will shatter secrecy and uphold fair competition and democracy. But much more action is needed.

Margaret Hodge“The APPG on Responsible Tax is delighted to support Fair Tax Fortnight, which celebrates all the companies and organisations that are working to make responsible tax common practice. Throughout the campaign to introduce public registers of beneficial ownership, it was always our view that this was a moral issue and not a political one. The same is true of responsible tax planning, which has now become a mainstream ethical issue. We hope to see Fair Tax Fortnight become an established part of the calendar, just like Fairtrade Fortnight and Living Wage Week, where organisations that do the right thing when it comes to tax are not only recognised but celebrated.”

The Fair Tax Mark is an accreditation scheme that’s growing in demand as businesses recognise the benefit of being able to demonstrate their commitment to fair tax practices. Accredited businesses include Richer Sounds, AMT Coffee, The Co-op, SSE and Lush Cosmetics. Consumers looking to support businesses committed to paying their fair share of tax can find the more than 4,500 shops and offices of Fair Tax Mark accredited organisations at www.fairtaxmark.net/map 

*All polling results are from research undertaken by ICM and commissioned by the Fair Tax Mark. The ICM Omnibus is a nationally representative omnibus survey of 2,020 adults across GB. Polling occurred between 18th and 21st May 2018. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

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