A new scheme aims to give businesses an opportunity to prove that they are paying tax in a fair way.
The Fair Tax Mark allows businesses to highlight to their customers that their tax affairs are in order – but how does the scheme work, and should you sign up?
What is the Fair Tax Mark?
The Fair Tax Mark is a kitemark system under which businesses can indicate that they “pay their fair share of tax.” It indicates transparency and honesty on the part of businesses that are kitemarked.
Businesses are ‘accredited’ by the Fair Tax Mark group, which has developed a series of standards for fair tax alongside a number of “technical experts”. Once accredited, businesses can display the Fair Tax Mark on all of their marketing materials.
Why should I sign up?
According to the Fair Tax Mark group, one in four consumers want to boycott “tax dodgers”. Public opinion has turned firmly against businesses that seek to minimise their tax liabilities using techniques such as tax havens, as the response to recent news about Google and Amazon has shown. The ability to prove that your business is dealing with its tax affairs in an honest manner could therefore be a significant marketing boon.
But it is not only potential customers that might be impressed by your accreditation. Other businesses may also prefer to deal with firms in whose tax affairs they can have confidence, and the Fair Tax Mark may therefore help you to build partnerships.
What are the criteria?
In order to apply for the Fair Tax Mark you must be a limited company. The Mark is not available to sole traders; your accounts must be publicly disclosed.
The criteria for accreditation vary depending on whether your business trades solely in the UK, is a UK-owned multinational, or is a foreign-owned multinational with subsidiaries in the UK. The criteria are extensive, but can be split into two categories: transparency; and tax rate, tax avoidance, and tax disclosure.
You can read the full sets of criteria on the Fair Tax Mark website.
What does it cost?
The fee for becoming Fair Tax Mark accredited depends on the size of your business. For firms with a turnover of less than £250,000 the fee is £200 + VAT. This covers the cost of the assessment and the licensing of the mark, and is payable in two instalments – one when the assessment is carried out, and the second when you begin to use the Mark. Provided that the relevant business practices don’t change in the interim, you can begin using the Mark at any date in the future, meaning that you will have the time to add it to your marketing materials.
How do I get started?
Small businesses can apply for the mark on the Fair Tax Mark website.