The Scottish government needs to say what it means about fair tax

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I noted this in the new deal between the SNP and Greens in Scotland:

I highlighted the last paragraph for a reason. Defining tax avoidance in this context is nigh on impossible. What you can do instead is define what is good practice that must be followed if tax avoidance is to be unlikely.

No one has tried to do this better than the Fair Tax Mark, run by the Fair Tax Foundation. Now, I am biased. I founded the FTM and still advise it, but am no longer a director. Those involved in this process will need to look at what it does.

Importantly though, grants, of course, do not all go to large companies. Critically, if the Scottish government is serious it has to:

  • Demand that all companies with public grants publish their full accounts on public record;
  • If they are a group full country-by-country reporting must be available on public record;
  • Ownership should be on public record;
  • There must be a tax governance policy in place;
  • It must be monitored and audited, annually;
  • That policy must require an explanation of the tax rate with workings supplied;
  • All cards must be face-up on the table;
  • No tax haven involvement should be permitted.

That is deliverable.

But if the SNP / Greens really wanted a level playing field they would demand this of all companies trading in Scotland.

And why not? Why is it only public procurement that matters? Can't people be fleeced in any sector at cost to society at large?  Why shouldn't everyone get the protection the government is seeking?