Fair Tax Mark Standards and Guidance Notes

Three standards, one Fair Tax Mark

The law treats business differently, depending on their size and location. Our standards reflect this.

We have developed three standards (with associated guidance notes) to ascertain and encourage responsible tax conduct:

  • Global Multinational Business Standard
  • Solely UK-based Business Standard
  • UK Small Business Standard (turnover of £1m or lower)

To obtain the Fair Tax Mark, businesses are assessed against the criteria set out in the appropriate accreditation standard. 

There are many reasons to secure the Fair Tax Mark, from standing out in your sector and increasing customer confidence, to reassuring investors and boosting your brand via enhanced CSR and ESG credentials.

Key principles

Our standards are based on the following principles.

A business should: 

  • pay the right amount of tax (and no more) in the right place at the right time, according to both the letter and the spirit of the law
  • provide sufficient public information to enable its stakeholders to form a rounded and informed view of its beneficial ownership, tax conduct and financial presence (across the world, if they are a multinational)
  • say what they pay with pride

Put simply, to secure a Fair Tax Mark, a business should demonstrate a substantive commitment to responsible tax conduct, financial transparency, public Country-by-Country Reporting (if a multinational) and beneficial ownership disclosure. There must be a binding tax policy that explicitly shuns tax avoidance and the artificial use of tax havens, and no recent evidence of contradicting activities. All subsidiaries and related party transactions should be fully disclosed.

The scoring system underpinning the Fair Tax Mark accreditation standards is predominantly driven by the belief that ‘transparency’ encourages, and helps business demonstrate, responsible tax conduct. It also considers the tax contribution made by a business over a number of years. There are many good reasons why a business may not be paying high tax rates over a given period. For example, it may be loss-making in some years, or claiming legitimate tax reliefs within both the spirit and letter of the law. Such businesses can still secure a Fair Tax Mark by providing additional disclosures – especially in connection with shortfalls from the applicable headline rates of tax in operation.

Global Multinational Business Standard

English standard download
Spanish standard download

No matter where in the world your multinational enterprise is based, our Global Multinational Business Standard allows us to accredit you with the Fair Tax Mark. The criteria against which we assess global multinationals focuses on five key areas: beneficial ownership, governance, tax policy, financial and tax reporting, and cash taxes paid.

The Fair Tax Mark Global Multinational Business Standard satisfies the key reporting recommendations of GRI 207, the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises on Responsible Business Conduct, but carries with it the additional weight of independent third party verification undertaken by a trusted social enterprise.

Accreditation will also go a long way to demonstrate alignment to the EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive and associated Minimum Safeguards, which flag ‘taxation’ as a material consideration.

UK-only standards

We have two standards for UK-only businesses:

  • Our Solely UK-based Business Standard is used to assess businesses with a turnover higher than £1m.
  • Small businesses with a turnover of £1m or lower are scored against the UK Small Business Standard.

Background

The Fair Tax Mark standards and criteria have been developed with input from a broad range of stakeholders, including businesses, civil society organisations, tax experts and more.

Technical Advisory Group, drawn from a range of backgrounds and perspectives, communicates throughout the year and meets on an ad hoc basis.

A public consultation process underpinned the development of our Global Multinational Business Standard.

While our standards and criteria detail the scoring system we use to assess and accredit a business, we also provide a range of templates, papers and good practice examples. These include:

Fees

As a not-for-profit social enterprise, we need to charge a fee for our assessment and accreditation services. This allows us to cover our costs and grow the Fair Tax Mark.

Our fees have been benchmarked against comparable ethical accreditation schemes.

Fees for Global Multinational Businesses | Fees for UK-only Businesses 

Become Fair Tax Mark Accredited

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