What was the high street hiding?
In June 2013, the Fair Tax Mark launched a pilot study comparing the tax affairs of 25 UK retailers. Amidst near daily revelations about how well-known companies avoid paying millions of pounds in tax, the Fair Tax Mark used an innovative, peer-reviewed methodology that assessed companies on:
- Whether they disclose how much profit they make in the UK as distinct from other countries (country-by-country reporting)
- Whether the tax they pay in the UK appears reasonable (their effective corporation tax rate)
- Whether or not it seems likely that they are engaged in tax avoidance activities (tax havens)
The results scored companies out of a total of 15 and showed that:
- As the size of a company increased its Fair Tax Mark score fell, on average
- As companies got bigger their use of tax havens increased, on average
- As companies got bigger their tax rates fell on average, suggesting that bigger companies are working the tax system to their advantage
- Country-by-country reporting data got worse as companies got bigger
In fact, the larger a company was the lower its tax rate was likely to be, the less information it provided on where it really trades and the greater the use it made of tax havens. If, as seems likely, large companies pay less tax than small ones whilst providing less information on their trading, then there is a serious competitive imbalance both on the UK High Street and maybe in the economy as a whole.
Below is a summary table of how the companies fared in our ranking system. Click on individual company names to find out how they got their score (opens in pdf document).
Please note the criteria used to score these companies differs from the one now used. A full outline of our pilot study methodology is available here.