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Fair Tax Foundation

Ethical Consumer helped to establish the ground-breaking accreditation scheme rewarding businesses that pay a fair amount of tax. 

The aim of our campaign is to encourage consumers to buy from companies that pay a fairer rate of tax thereby putting pressure on tax avoiders to instigate more socially aware tax policies and more transparent tax reporting.

Fair tax is at the heart of a fair society

The Fair Tax Foundation is about businesses demonstrating that they have an open and responsible tax policy.

We want to reward businesses that pay a fair amount of tax and encourage consumers to use those businesses.

The Fair Tax Mark shows that a business:

  • pays the right amount of tax (but no more) in the right place at the right time, according to both the letter and the spirit of the law;
  • readily provides sufficient public information to enable its stakeholders to form a rounded and informed view of its beneficial ownership, tax conduct and financial presence and impacts across the world;
  • says what they pay with pride.

Why is it needed?

When it comes to tax businesses have a choice. They can choose to act responsibly or they can choose to minimize their tax bill regardless of the cost to society.

Tax is needed to pay for public services like schools and hospitals and also for infrastructure like roads and sanitation.

When companies pay less tax ordinary people either pay more or public projects get cut.

More than just an accreditation scheme

In the current climate of austerity and slashed public spending, corporate tax abuse continues to make headline news in the UK and around the world. It is an issue that is not going to go away anytime soon.

Whilst pensioners and other vulnerable people brace themselves for a winter of choosing between heating and food, many of our major high street retailers still refuse to make a reasonable contribution to our society, lowering their tax bills and hiding what they are up to in their accounts.

Coupled with this, big business is gaining an unfair advantage over the competition.

With 1 in 4 consumers wanting to boycott tax dodgers, it's time to show them which businesses they can trust and to help them spend their money where it counts.

The Fair Tax Foundation aims to offer businesses that know they are good taxpayers - or want to work towards becoming one - the opportunity to proudly display this to their customers.

As of November 2021 there are over 70 organisations who have signed up. The full list is on the Fair Tax Foundation website. A growing number of UK councils have also signed the Councils for Fair Tax declaration, with the full list on the website.

Ethical Consumer is proud to hold the Fair Tax Mark accreditation. The annual accceditation was re-awarded in March 2022.

Logo with heart and words Fair Tax accredited

Organisations which have signed up range from energy, finance and food companies to retail, technology and unions. The include companies featured in some of our guides such as:

  • SSE is the UK’s broadest-based energy company and the first FTSE100 company to achieve the Fair Tax Mark (UK multinational version).
  • Unity Trust Bank is a specialist bank for social economy organisations and the wider civil society in the UK and the first bank to achieve the Fair Tax Mark.
  • The Midcounties Co-operative is the largest independent co-operative society in the UK, operating a range of businesses in Food, Travel, Pharmacy, Funeral, Childcare, Energy, Post Offices and Flexible Benefits.
  • The Co-operative Group is one of the world’s largest consumer co-operatives, with interests across food, funerals, insurance, electrical and legal services.
  • Ecology Building Society offers sustainable mortgages for properties and projects that respect the environment, funded through our range of simple, transparent savings accounts.
  • Lush Cosmetics - handmade cosmetics and the UK’s first multinational high street retailer to achieve the Fair Tax Mark.
  • Friendly Soap - animal-free, cold-process low waste soaps made in Yorkshire
  • Leeds Building Society - the fifth largest building society in the UK, and one of our Best Buys for mortgages
  • Coventry Building Society - the second largest building society in the UK and recommended in our guide for mortgages, savings accounts and cash ISAs

Fair Tax Foundation goes international

As of 25th November 2021, the Fair Tax Mark is now available to multinational businesses which are headquartered outside of the UK.

The new Global Multinational Business Standard, which took two years to develop, was launched with the accreditation of European energy company Vattenfall.

Vattenfall have onshore and offshore windfarms in the UK which currently power 800,000 homes. This could rise to 5m by 2030 if all projects under development are built. They are the operator of Pen y Cymoedd onshore windfarm, the largest onshore wind farm in England and Wales.

Vattenfall, which is headquartered in Sweden, is also the largest business to secure the Fair Tax Mark.

Other businesses are also interested in becoming accredited, including Snap (the Californian tech business behind Snapchat).

In other international news, the UN General Assembly agreed a resolution at the end of 2022 which gives the organisation a mandate to begin intergovernmental talks on tax. Described by the Tax Justice Network (TJN) as a 'pivotal moment', it opens the door for much wider international tax cooperation around corporate tax avoidance, including the proposal for a UN tax convention to be negotiated.

This represents a defeat for the OECD (a group of 38 rich countries) which had been managing tax 'reform' up to this point, and a victory for the African nations which had been pushing for this more inclusive approach for years.

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