Leader: Is the ICAEW on the mark with Fair Tax thoughts?

THE FAIR TAX MARK, set up by founder Richard Murphy, is an interesting concept.

It aims to use accounts filed by companies to check against the Fair Tax Mark’s criteria, and judge whether that company scores high enough to be awarded a ‘Fair Tax Mark’. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, of course, and Murphy and his team have come under intense scrutiny for what criteria, and subsequent scoring, they use to gauge ‘fair’, or not.

With so much flak, does that mean that the Fair Tax Mark (FTM) is flawed or unworthy? Not necessarily.

But what is interesting is the ICAEW’s endorsement of FTM through its tax faculty blog.

The blog is currently showing the dreaded ‘thumbs down’ – in terms of readers voting against the blog’s content. Unhelpfully, the ICAEW posted another blog on exactly the same topic minutes later…an edited version perhaps?

The situation is very reminiscent of when ICAEW CEO Michael Izza blogged about tax avoidance, with members questioning whether he and the institute were just jumping on a bandwagon. Hitting out against aggressive tax avoidance – fine, we don’t want to encourage egregious behaviour, but where does Izza’s view translate into ICAEW policy?

And so, the Fair Tax Mark. Does the ICAEW endorse FTM wholeheartedly? Or, just the idea of it? Or, does the FTM’s criteria match, or sit incongruously, against any of the institute’s parameters for ‘fair tax’ (if any exist)?

It will be fascinating to see whether the institute retreats quietly back into the shadows on this, or whether it intends to engage more closely, or even formally, with those looking to enshrine fair tax.

Kevin Reed is editor of Accountancy Age

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  • Stephen Herring

    It is perplexing why the ICAEW (of which, I have been a member for over thirty five years) would appear to be aligning itself to such an ill conceived and poorly researched ‘badge’; to call it ‘half-baked’ would grossly exaggerate its authenticity. In my view, where authentic tax planning ends and tax avoidance begins is not for one lobbiest to determine.I would be very interested to know what form of consultation took place with member firms and, in particular, with the leading tax practitioners on ICAEW committees. Hopefully, we will hear very shortly that the endorsement has been withdrawn. Anyone can make a mistake when acting in haste but it would demonstrate genuine leadership to rectify it without delay.
    Stephen Herring,
    Head of Taxation,
    Institute of Directors

  • Mark Lee

    I agree with Strohen

  • Benjohn Barnes

    As a consumer, I welcome the FTM, and I absolutely look forward to the day when Which? publish compliance in their product reviews.

    As a small company director, I also warmly welcome the mark. It’s not an outrageous request to compete on a level field. Tax avoidance schemes available to larger company’s drastically distort this and provide them an unfair advantage.

    As a tax payer and member of the public, I welcome the scheme too. It seeks to increase the transparency of corporate accounts. This is no bad thing.

    The score card of the mark is published and open – it is a transparent process. So, if you take specific issue with it, then specifically critique it. As it stands, the criticism I’ve read seems a great deal like people being upset that “the market” has responded to consumer outcry and shone the light at them.

  • Gordon

    Complete bloody bonkers, what next? …”we comply with the spirit of the law mark” …”we don’t hold up banks at gunpoint mark” Government should tighten the law to tax is plain simple and matter of fact, not choice.