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Fair Tax Mark

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About 18 months ago, the Fair Tax Mark (FTM) was first launched as a pilot. It has come a long way since then. A number of companies have already attained the FTM, with the most notable being SSE plc, the first FTSE100 company to be accredited. Appointing Engaged Consulting Ltd as the first independent FTM assessor is a very positive step forward for FTM, as it allows interested businesses an independent route to accreditation.

The FTM is a voluntary business ‘kite mark’, intended to allow responsible businesses to clearly demonstrate their approach to tax. It uses a set of criteria against which a business is measured. Once accredited, a business can then use the FTM logo to demonstrate to stakeholders that they have met those criteria.

In order to obtain the FTM, a company needs to be assessed. The process will vary from company to company, depending on the size and structure of the organisation, but the elements might include:

  • a high level, confidential assessment of the business to help identify whether FTM is appropriate;
  • advice on what areas of policy or transparency the business might need to address in order to obtain the FTM;
  • support in delivering any additional disclosures which might be required;
  • performing the FTM assessment;
  • liaising with FTM to facilitate the company’s application and accreditation;
  • support and advice to businesses on how they might best use the FTM to promote their approach to tax.

Some elements of the FTM criteria hinge on disclosures in statutory accounts, so now is the ideal time to be considering this. This is clearly a busy time for businesses. However, it affords the perfect opportunity to build any additional disclosures that might be needed for the FTM into the financial statements as they are being prepared. Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK, has said that ‘fair tax is the new fair trade’. I hope that responsible businesses will embrace FTM in the same way that they have Fairtrade.