Stephen McPartland MP has begun publishing the responses from FTSE 100 companies to his challenge for greater tax transparency at www.taxchallenge.co.uk. The responses have been wide ranging with HSBC offering to help design a tax transparency standard, BT and others welcoming the transparency initiative but not the means and Hargreaves Lansdown questioning the value of the taxes they pay.
Stephen took up the initiative after meeting Christian Aid supporters when the Tax Justice Bus tour visited his constituency of Stevenage. The tax justice campaigners believe that tax dodging by international companies costs the UK around £35 billion and developing countries an estimated $160billion per year.
Stephen said, "Just imagine the dramatic difference such a huge sum of money would make if it was available to invest in public services, infrastructure and other vital services essential for economic growth."
"There is a growing anger and concern that some large companies are hiding behind complex accounting rules that may be strictly legal, but are considered to be unethical by the public. The problem of missing billions in tax is not just a problem in the UK, it is worldwide and does the greatest damage to poor and developing countries who cannot stand up to massive corporations."
"I know governments from all around the world will agree with the sentiments of greater tax transparency, but they will struggle to introduce it as every nation competes in the global race. Therefore, it will be up to the companies themselves to lead the way and they will only do that if their customers, the British public in many cases, drag them kicking and screaming towards tax transparency and a fairer tax system for us all."
Stephen McPartland MP has written to the Chief Executives of all the FTSE 100 companies to ask them individually if they are willing to pledge their support for corporate tax transparency and if they will support a new international accountancy standard for country-by-country reporting. The responses are being published at www.taxchallenge.co.uk so that the general public know which FTSE 100 companies are willing to sign up to tax transparency and which are not.
Stephen added, "Everyone of us can then decide individually whether the biggest companies in Britain really do care about the poorest in our society at home and abroad."