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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