Unity Trust challenges big banks to follow its example on tax

Fair Tax Mark pioneer Unity Trust Bank has challenged the UK’s big banks to join the conversation about responsible tax.

Writing last week in ResPublica, Unity’s director of business development and marketing, Peter Kelly, said that while corporate social responsibility covers issues of environmental impact, labour rights, fair trade and charity fund-raising, tax remains ‘the last taboo.’

He wants companies to use their CSR reporting to come clean about their tax affairs.

Mr Kelly argues that the failure of businesses to be transparent about their tax arrangements poses reputational risks, especially as consumer concern about tax avoidance continues to grow and sharpen.

“If a company is confident that its tax planning strategy is not venturing into the field of tax avoidance, then surely it has nothing to hide?”

Questions are beginning to mount for those in the banking sector.

“Many now ask why it is that HMRC figures, as reported by the Huffington Post, show that since the 2008 banking crisis banks have paid twice as much in bonuses to their staff (£67.6bn) than in corporation tax (£32.4bn)?”

“Further analysis made by the Robin Hood Tax Campaign suggests while the core profits of the UK’s five biggest banks increased by 45% in 2012 to £31.5bn, they paid just £1.3bn in corporation tax in 2011-12?”

Mr Kelly concluded that some of these questions could and should be answered in their annual reports.

Read the full piece here.