The Fair Tax Mark – moving on into 2020

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I am no longer a director of the Fair Tax Mark, but am still working with it on developing new areas of work, and remain proud of its achievements. This was its own summary of progress in 2019:

Fair Tax Mark’s 2019, and what’s next in 2020

2019 was another year of strong growth and innovation. The Fair Tax Mark realised a number of landmarks, making it our most impactful year yet.

A big thank you to all those in business and civil society who have done so much to help us grow our collective influence and reach.

Certified business pass the 50 milestone

The number of Fair Tax certified businesses passed the ’50’ milestone in March, with the year seeing new certifications for FTSE-listed plcs (United UtilitiesSevern Trent and Eurocell), social enterprises (Suma WholefoodsSouthern Co-opCommunity Leisure UKEnergy4All and VME Retail) and a range of private enterprises (Affinity WaterMunnelly Group and M&M Underwriting).

A full list of our growing number of accredited businesses is available here.

Fair Tax Week

We ran our second Fair Tax Week in July, kindly sponsored by SSE and Pennon. This included well attended Parliamentary receptions in London (co-organised with the APPG Responsible Tax) and Edinburgh (with the Co-operative Party), and the release of polling that found record levels of concern among the public about the use of tax avoidance practices by business in the UK. It also found that more people than ever before would change who they shop with to favour a business that is Fair Tax Mark certified.

The dates for Fair Tax Week 2020 have now been announced as 13-21 June, with Tax Justice Sunday on 14th June, and we anticipate that it will be the biggest and best yet.

Councils for Fair Tax

During Fair Tax Week, we launched the Councils for Fair Tax Declaration, which was quickly signed by Oxford, Oldham, Peterborough, Bingley, Cannock Chase and Greenwich. It has been heartening to see the breadth of political support there is for this initiative, which is being supported by the Barrow Cadbury Trust. Several more councils are actively working with procurement and finance officers to consider their support, and we expect to see many more signing the Declaration in the near future. Copies of the Declaration, together with guidance notes and a sample motion, are available here.

Going international

In September, we announced that the Fair Tax Mark aims to ‘go international’ in 2020. Research funding from Luminate has enabled us to explore what ‘Fair Tax’ looks like outside the UK, and the scope for new standards that would enable businesses across the globe to be certified for the first time. There is a pressing need for us to develop international standards given we are being approached more and more by businesses from outside of the UK. Moreover, regulators, investors and municipalities across the globe are telling us that they want to encourage Fair Tax Mark accreditation (or equivalent) in their jurisdictions.

Silicon Six report hits the headlines

We ended 2020 with a bang. There was the release of a report on the ‘Silicon Six and their $100bn global tax gap’, which was covered by media outlets across the world – from CNBC and Fortune in the United States through to the Guardian and Daily Mail in the UK. You can hear our Chief Executive discussing the Report on the US national public radio network, NPR, here.

This was followed by our listing in the 2019 edition of the ‘Global Tax 50‘ by International Tax Review – which offers “a rundown of the most influential individuals, organisations, geopolitical events and trends in the tax world.”

Looking ahead to 2020 and beyond

The year 2020 may turn out to be a seminal year for tax justice. The new UK Government has pledged to cancel the planned reduction in corporation tax from 19 to 17%, although it remains to be seen if this welcome announcement survives the challenges of Brexit and those who still long for the country to become Singapore-on-Thames. Internationally, the likes of Facebook and Google are now facing digital sales taxes in France, Spain and elsewhere, and the OECD  is seeking to find a way to ensure that multinationals “pay tax wherever they have significant consumer-facing activities and generate their profits”. Albeit, the current United States administration seems minded to derail these and related measures that seek to ensure that profitable companies pay a minimum rate of tax, wherever they operate.

At the Fair Tax Mark, we will continue to advocate responsible tax conduct and urge progressive businesses to step forward and ‘say what they pay with pride’. We plan to expand our impact in the UK, whilst also establishing new accreditation standards that will allow us to certify businesses incorporated outside the UK for the first time.