After a year of consultation and research, the Fair Tax Mark launched today. This marks an important step for the tax justice movement, and will help inform progressive consumers who want to reward companies acting ethically.
The Fair Tax Mark is a simple concept. It is a label for companies that are open and transparent about their tax affairs, and signifies a business that is either paying the right amount of tax or is serious about working towards the right amount of tax. It is for businesses to proudly state that they contribute to the society within which they operate, and for consumers who want their spending to reflect their principles.
The basis of the Fair Tax Mark can be seen as arising from the high-profile revelation of companies like Amazon and Google taking advantage of loopholes in the UK tax code, and shifting profits in order to avoid vast amounts of tax payments. While boycotting these companies is one way to show disapproval and hopefully affect their behaviour, the Fair Tax Mark offers a positive and practical channel for consumers to ‘vote with their feet’.
With 1 in 4 consumers wanting to boycott tax dodgers, the Mark takes the tax justice campaign into the arena of business, providing a platform for competition between companies. Those who want to do well in a marketplace of increasingly aware consumers will apply for the Mark.
Supported by advisors from KPMG, Centre for Global Development, Open Knowledge Foundation and Mazars LLP, the Fair Tax Mark is another example of a practical solution spearheaded by tax justice campaigners that is backed by technical capability. The team also have realistic criteria and expectations, currently restricting assessment to businesses trading solely in the UK.
The Fair Tax Mark has come about from ethically minded business and civil society groups coming together to fill a void. It represents a progressive effort to solve problems created by destructive corporate interests and government negligence. Over the coming months it will be sure to gain interest, and any businesses who want to align themselves on the right side of the tax justice debate would be smart to get the Mark. With an estimated £12 billion lost to public purse every year from corporate tax avoidance, the need is certainly there.