Fair Tax Week 2022 has just begun. It’s part of an ongoing campaign by the Fair Tax Foundation. The aim is to ensure that when it comes to tax, it isn’t just people like you and me who end up footing the bill.
It costs hundreds of billions of pounds to keep the UK ticking over. The NHS, law and order, transport, defence, education… it all needs to be paid for. As we’ve seen through the pandemic, without these vital public services our nation would totally grind to a halt. That’s why big companies, with £ multi-million turnovers, need to pay their full share. When big firms wriggle out of their tax responsibilities it shrinks the pot available to fund public services. That’s why I support this campaign and want to see it succeed. It’s also why, just under a year ago, I led a vote in North Tyneside’s council chamber that resulted in us becoming a Fair Tax Council.
Surveys show that the public is very concerned about corporate tax avoidance. Every year the Institute of Business Ethics (IBE) surveys a representative sample of the nation, asking them some key questions. For the 9th consecutive year corporate tax avoidance has been people’s top concern. (See the graph below) It’s not surprising that British people with their instinctive sense of fair play want to see a level playing field when it comes to tax.
One of the reasons I wanted to ensure that North Tyneside Council subscribed to the Fair Tax Declaration was because, in terms of the local economy, we are a big spender. Studies have shown that more money can be made to circulate in local areas when councils start to look more closely at the tax affairs of their suppliers. This supports greater prosperity for local people. The process is known as ‘Responsible Procurement’. Done properly it means that businesses that use complex offshore ownership structures to avoid paying UK taxes should not be able to supply products and services that are funded by the public purse.
I’m pleased to see that thanks to the sterling efforts of the team at the Fair Tax Foundation more and more big companies are choosing to become accredited and put their tax affairs in order. Take for example construction supplier Marshalls, who are supplying a lot of the materials for the regeneration of North Shields town centre. You can see a longer list here.
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