Comment on Fair Tax Mark’s latest post

I simply had to post a comment on this. I’m not well and in a filthy mood, so I’m not sure how coherent it is, but this is my comment:

In relation to your fourth point:

Most of the people I have seen who are criticising Fair Tax Mark from within the accountancy and tax professions I believe want to see the public better informed about taxation. That is my opinion and I can only vouch with certainty for myself.

To declare my interests, I work for a legal information provider. The way I see it, the more interest in taxation, the bigger our market is.

I believe that many of the current problems arise from misunderstandings, a lack of information, over what is intended by the tax system and how it achieves that. I think that people being better informed about taxation will allow us to have a better discussion about what our tax system is designed to do, and what it should do in the future.

I think that it is clear that my criticisms of the Fair Tax Mark are technical in nature. And my main concern is that the Fair Tax Mark is too simplistic. It is simply not possible to guarantee that a business pays ‘fair tax’ on the basis of corporation tax transparency alone. Corporation tax transparency is part of ‘fair tax’, but it not its entirety by a long way.

In fact, I have only seen arguments for a less informed public from proponents of the Fair Tax Mark who have argued that people just want to boil down tax behaviour to a pass or fail.

As such, I think your fourth point is incorrect. Most critics I have heard have made it clear that they have no issue with increased transparency over corporation tax, which is what the Fair Tax Mark method actually measures.

Indeed, most critics appear to be openly in favour of increased transparency and better understanding of taxation.

I can’t see why they wouldn’t publish it. As I tried to explain elsewhere, listening to criticism is very important.


About Ben Saunders

I'm a Chartered Tax Adviser and a freelance writer. This is my personal blog about, well, mainly taxation. I might put other stuff in. Who knows.
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3 Responses to Comment on Fair Tax Mark’s latest post

  1. Jason P says:

    Surely the whole point about FTM is that it _does_ judge, so that consumers don’t have to..? And as for building bridges – as you say, the tone of the article is hardly conciliatory towards the tax profession in general. And then there’s the little gem about presenting tax in a “way that does not hide behind partial information” – but for many businesses aggressive management of VAT or employment taxes is of far more relevance than corporation tax planning, yet these are irrelevant to the current scoring.
    Anyway, I thought the post was coherent; get well soon!

    • Thanks.

      Whoever does the twitter account obviously realised that point 4 was a load of tosh.

      Five points (minus one)

    • I had expected that it would judge, but it seems that the criteria are carefully steering clear of doing so.

      Except that Murphy suggests that they will be changed to incorporate some judgement so that an egregrious tax-avoider can’t get the mark… that seems inconsistent with the way the existing criteria are quite mechanical, with the most subjectivity being whether a description is clear. I’ll be interested to see how they manage to incorporate it into the marking structure: to deny 8 marks, when so many are available for meeting company law requirements, will be a bit if a stretch.

      That’s pretty much why my scheme (which I grow more tempted to start taking seriously every time I look at the FTM) is a simple pass/fail: falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus, as it were.

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