Friday, 7 January 2011

It Is Good to Pay Tax

There have a been series of demonstrations, organised by UK Uncut and others, against companies who have been avoiding paying their tax. I say good luck to those protestors. How about forming a group of companies committed to paying their tax, to put extra pressure on those multi-nationals seeking to avoid it?

But I'm having difficulty finding companies to join! I asked our accountants if any of their clients were happy to pay their tax in full. He thought for a moment, casting his mind over hundreds of companies, and said "maybe one". I wrote before of finding, when looking for a new auditor, that the focus of nearly every auditor we met was how to help me avoid paying tax.

Where is our sense of social responsibility? We expect to get the benefits of public spending. We expect our workforce to be educated, we expect health care for when we or they are ill, we expect to be protected against crime, we expect good transport and infrastructure.

I don't want to seem holier than thou. To be honest, we haven't made a lot of profit in the two years of recession. But when we did well in the previous years, it seemed only appropriate to pay our fair share.

So next time you hear a representative of a company, whether large or small, talking about corporate social responsibility and their contribution to society, ask them a simple question: Is their company committed to paying their full UK tax bill?


Anonymous said...

I am glad to see that there are still people around who have their heart in the right place (not necessarily where their wallet is :-).

Don't get me wrong: it is only fair to earn money and make a profit in return for a good service or product (but then: what is good?). But when money becomes the objective in stead of a means, then things get fishy (and fish always starts rotting from the top).

In support of what you are saying, I can give you some facts and figures about the Belgian situation: in 2009, the top 50 biggest companies in Belgium paid only 0,57% tax-on-profit. The top 500 earners paid only 3,76% tax-on-profit.

Belgium is in a dire situation, as many other EC-countries. It has to cut its budget by 25 billion Euro over the next 5 years. If these companies paid their dues, what amounts to 33.99% tax-on-profit, 14.3 billion Euro would be cashed in by the Treasury, just like that. Every year!

Captains of industry, finance and government: take your responsibility, do away with those luscious bonuses and start setting positive examples in stead of providing the "common people" with an alibi to become indifferent about what happens to this world.

Anonymous said...

At last, a kindred spirit on the matter of taxation!

As a director of a social entreprise, we are at odds with most of the accountants we've had. I for one am 100% committed to paying for education, health and welfare. Unfortunately, we are few and we tend to be small.

Then there's the shocking fact that my children may never go to university, my mother may not receive as good a treatment as she could have had 10 years ago if she is ill, my friend may see her disability money taken from her, while all our tax money got gobbled up by... bankers.

How do you argue with a tax evader who give their tax avoidance money in full to a charity? Their argument is that at least they choose what cause their money goes to, while I don't :(