Business, Civil Society and the ‘New’ Politics of Corporate Tax Justice
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Business, Civil Society and the ‘New’ Politics of Corporate Tax Justice

Paying a Fair Share?

Edited by Richard Eccleston and Ainsley Elbra

Since the financial crisis the extent of corporate tax avoidance has attracted media headlines and the attention of political leaders the world over. This study examines the ‘new’ politics of corporate taxation and the role of civil society organisations in shaping the international tax agenda and influencing the tax practices of the world’s largest and most powerful corporations. It highlights the complex and multi-dimensional strategies used by activists to influence public opinion, formal regulation and corporate behaviour in relation to international taxation.
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Chapter 10: Tax justice as social licence: the Fair Tax Mark

Allison Christians

Abstract

Tax justice advocates have spent the past decade building public consciousness about the tax planning practices of financial elites and large MNCs. An important recent development in this campaign was the establishment, in the UK in 2014, of the Fair Tax Mark. The Fair Tax Mark, modelled on the success of the ‘fair trade’ initiative, is a rules-based ethical consumption standard designed to influence firm and consumer behaviour and promote increased corporate transparency. This makes the Fair Tax Mark an emergent quasi-legal regime that has the potential to reach well beyond the UK, with repercussions for consumers, firms and governments around the world. It is thus important to understand not only what the Fair Tax Mark is in terms of the ‘rules’ that make it a quasi-legal regime, but also how it might function as both a quasi-legal tax regime and a strategy for influencing consumer and corporate behaviour. This chapter argues that the creators of the Fair Tax Mark have taken an important step beyond straightforward issue advocacy, developing an alternative tax standard based on their own conceptions of justice. They have done this by creating an independent set of acceptable parameters for tax planning and compliance, defined and measured by a point system that reduces taxpayer behaviour to an observable, quantitative measure.

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