Richard Murphy (63) is a chartered accountant and a political economist.
He is Professor of Accounting at Sheffield University Management School, director of Tax Research LLP, director of the Corporate Accountability Network, a co-founder and continuing activist for the Green New Deal and is a columnist on The National newspaper in Scotland.
The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales has named Richard as the top online UK influencer in accountancy in 2021, as it also did in 2020 and 2019.
Details of his funding and latest appointments can be found here.
Richard has worked in four areas since becoming an economic justice campaigner. These are tax justice, the Green New Deal, new economic thinking including modern monetary theory, and accounting and audit reform, although there are many overlaps between the two.
As a tax justice campaigner, Richard co-founded the Tax Justice Network in 2003 and was its research director until 2010 but is no longer connected with it.
Richard has been a notable critic of tax havens, and especially the Crown Dependencies of Jersey and the Isle of Man. He has co-authored one of the best read books on the subject. By redefining tax havens as secrecy jurisdictions he helped change the focus of regulation to tackle their abuse, making clear that demanding transparency was the way to beat the abuse they sold. He co-created the Financial Secrecy Index to help achieve this goal.
In 2005 Richard created Tax Research LLP, and in 2006 began its blog. Since then more than 18,500 blogs have been published, at a rate of well over 3 per day for more than 15 years. In 2020 the blog was read 3.2 million times. It is one of the longest-running blogs of its type now, and one of the best read.
In 2013 Richard created the idea of the Fair Tax Mark, and was a director of the company until 2019. The Fair Tax Mark recognises that there are companies who want to do the right thing with regard to tax.
Richard’s work on tax-related issues now focuses on helping define the tax gap (how much tax is due that is not paid) and tax spillovers, which seek to explain how these losses arise. This work is now largely for GIFT, which is backed by the IMF and World Bank.
Throughout this period the motivation for Richard’s work has been the creation of a level playing field in tax. The aim has been to prevent tax abuse to ensure that all pay according to their means in the interest of a fairer society and to reduce poverty.
Green New Deal
Richard began working with environmentalist Colin Hines in 2003, when they published a report on reforming pensions based on reviving local economies in the UK. The aim was to create green environmental transformation based on tax and savings reform.
This idea moved on to become an essential part of the Green New Deal, which they co-authored with others, including Ann Pettifor and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, in 2008. That 2008 report, and its successors over the next decade, often largely written by Richard and Colin, helped create the worldwide phenomenon that is now the Green New Deal. As Guardian economics editor Larry Elliott, with whom Richard and Colin also worked, has said, ‘We did not mean to write the solution to the global climate crisis, but it seems like we did.’
In 2010 Richard created the idea of Green quantitative easing as a means of funding the Green New Deal. This idea was adopted by Jeremy Corbyn to support his campaign to be leader of the Labour Party, but it was (unfortunately) not embraced by John McDonnell as shadow chancellor.
Richard’s most recent work on this issue has been closely linked to changing tax rules to incentivise the redirection of private capital to fund the Green New Deal, focussing particularly on ISA and pension savings.
Richard is a heterodox post-Keynesian economist with a particular interest in the macroeconomics of money and related issues, and how this relates to taxation. In this context Richard has been closely associated with the promotion of ideas related to modern monetary theory (MMT). He has now explored practical limitations to this theory, whilst still suggesting that there is much merit within it. His thinking on this issue is most easily accessed through the ebook ‘Money for nothing and my tweets for free’, which is a collection of his Twitter threads on this issue.
Accounting and audit reform
Accounting doesn’t excite people, but it is fundamental. Country-by-country reporting is all about accounting, and is key to holding corporations to account for their tax abuse. Knowing which companies properly pay their taxes is fundamental to the accounting that underpins the Fair Tax Mark.
Now Richard works for better tax accounting, but most especially for bringing the cost of climate change onto corporate balance sheets. He directs the Corporate Accountability Network that works in these issues, often in close association with academic colleagues at Sheffield University and Copenhagen Business School. More information on this work is available here.
Books, broadcasting and other publications
Richard has written a number of books, the most notable being The Joy of Tax, The Courageous State and Tax Havens: How Globalisation Really Works.
Richard’s other publications are too many to list: highlights are on his CV, available here. He has won two awards for his academic writing.
Richard has been involved in the production of many documentary programmes for the BBC, Channel 4 and non-UK based broadcasters over many years. He comments for news media on a regular basis. He has provided budget commentary for Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine Show for almost a decade.
Richard’s blog has been produced since 2006. On average more than three posts a day have happened since then. That’s likely to be not less than 6 million words, but no one has counted.
Richard has more than 92,000 Twitter followers and was ranked the most influential accountant in Twitter in both 2019 and 2020 by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.
Odds and ends
Richard was named as the seventh most influential person in tax in the world in 2014 and has been ranked highly in many other years.
Richard has featured in Accountancy Age’s UK financial power list of the most influential people in UK finance since at least 2009.
Richard was made an honorary fellow of the Association of International Accountants in 2017 for his lifetime contribution to the accounting profession.
Richard was PQ Magazine's Accounting Personality of the year in 2020 (honestly; there is such an award).
Richard's 2021 CV is available here.