Review of 'The Town That Took on the Taxman'
Guest blog from the Fair Tax Mark highlights the need for positive action against tax avoidance
The screening of The Town That Took On The Taxman on Wednesday 20th January on BBC2 highlighted the need for a new approach to tackling the tax avoiders.
It’s a compelling story. With governments slow to take decisive action to end tax avoidance by the likes of Amazon, Google and Starbucks, the programme tells the tale of how the little people are fighting back.
A group of small business-owners in the Welsh town of Crickhowell decided to take a stand by playing the tax avoiders at their own game by setting up an offshore tax dodging scheme of their own.
To take such action is undoubtedly courageous, if not legally risky, and should be applauded for shining the light on the murky world of tax havens and the damage that these do to independent British businesses and the public purse.
Current estimates suggest that whilst the public sector budget is being slashed, corporate tax avoidance in the UK is running at a whopping £10 billion every year.
But whilst Crickhowell’s stance raises important questions, the TV stunt is hard to replicate and so doesn't offer a viable solution to the problem.
Fair Tax scheme
In contrast, the Fair Tax Mark provides a way for both the ‘little people’ and bigger, progressive businesses to take action against tax avoidance and despite not yet being two years old, it has already affected real change.
The scheme certifies UK businesses that commit to being both open and transparent about their tax affairs and not to use tax havens or other tax avoiding schemes to dodge paying the taxes that they owe.
Covering all sizes of UK businesses from the corner shop to the corporate giant, the aim of the Fair Tax Mark is to create a level playing field for all by ensuring that businesses pay the right amount of tax, in the right place and at the right time.
Crucially businesses are then asked to publish enough information to prove to the public that they're as good as their word.
The result is that the Fair Tax Mark is now empowering ordinary people to make informed choices about where to spend their money by identifying those businesses who are paying their fair share of tax.
With the likes of The Co-operative Group, Lush Cosmetics and energy company SSE amongst those who've already signed up and with numbers increasing all the time, the Fair Tax Mark is now growing into a compelling movement for change.
The Radstock Co-operative Society receiving the Fair Tax Award.
Imagine if Crickhowell and other similar towns and cities chose to only buy from Fair Tax businesses? That would not only hit the tax avoiders where it hurts, in their wallets, but also send a powerful message to government.
This year the UK government will require all large businesses to publish their tax strategies, something that all Fair Tax businesses do as standard practice.
Plus just last month the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly to support a proposal to roll out a scheme similar to the Fair Tax Mark right across the whole of the EU.
But there is still much more to be done
The Crickhowell story demonstrates the potential of people power; the 'little people' are always stronger when they work together. We now need more businesses to stand up for Fair Tax and for the public to support them.
That's why we urge all those involved to join our campaign so that when the buzz created by a TV programme dies down, we can begin the hard work of building of a fairer, more equal future.
Meesha Nehru, Programme Director at the Fair Tax Mark
Discover which companies are rated worst by Ethical Consumer for likely use of tax avoidance.