A picture of a Richard Murphy

As all should know – because he tells us of this often enough – Richard Murphy is a founder and unpaid director of the Fair Tax Mark. This is a system by which you slip them your accounts and a fee – do not forget the fee – and they tell you whether, or that, you are being moral in your payment of taxes.

Note they don’t say that you’re obeying the law. They say instead that you’re doing what they think you should be doing.

Well, OK, we’re proper liberals around here, whatever floats the boats of consenting adults. If their opinion is valuable to you by all means pay for it.

It’s just that their opinion might not be worth all that much.

Newark Osteopaths joins a growing list of companies that have achieved the Fair Tax Mark, putting them alongside AMT Coffee, The Co-op, Lush Cosmetics, Richer Sounds, Scotmid, and Unicorn Grocery.

Richard Livings, Project Manager of the Fair Tax Mark said: “We are delighted to welcome Newark Osteopaths to the Fair Tax Mark, the UK’s accreditation scheme for businesses paying their fair share of corporation tax and reporting on their practices transparently. Today’s announcement means Newark Osteopaths are giving their customers a certified promise that their tax practices are at the leading edge of best practice.”

“Recent scandals where companies have been exposed as tax avoiders have resulted in boycotts and outrage. It’s vital that companies of all sizes stand up and show that paying their fair share is important, and it is great that Newark Osteopaths have done so. The Fair Tax Mark is a positive way for consumers to easily identify responsible businesses; companies that pay what they should, not what they can get away with.”

We’re entirely happy to share this news with you. We would point out that there’s a certain mystification as to how this Fair Tax Mark was awarded. For, as we’re told:

The problem with that being this from Richard Murphy:

What is the cost of individual tax avoidance?
This figure is best estimated by considering the main techniques that individuals use
to avoid tax. These are as follows.
1. Income is reallocated to a person or entity that has a lower tax rate than the
individual whose activity really generates the income. The people or entities to
whom the income is diverted might be:
a. other members of a person’s family e.g. a spouse or child
b. a trust for the benefit of a person’s family
c. a company owned by the individual but taxed at lower rates than those they
might enjoy personally
d. an offshore company or trust (this mainly applies to those not domiciled in
the UK – more explanation of domicile is available in the Glossary).
2. Changing the location of a transaction. This is much easier for those not
domiciled in the UK than for those who are so domiciled. In both cases, however,
the opportunity exists to relocate a transaction out of the UK, if a commercial
justification for doing so can be created.
3. Changing the nature of a transaction so that it appears to be something different
from what it actually is. This is commonplace, the most popular tactics being to:
a. convert income into capital gains, which are almost always taxed at lower rates
b. convert earned income into unearned income such as dividends to avoid
National Insurance charges that only apply to earned income
c. income is paid by way of benefits in kind that are taxed at less than their
full value
d. split income in small businesses so that VAT registration does not have to
take place.

In other reports and comments Murphy has insisted that paying a nominal income subject to the normal income tax and national insurance charges, then extracting profits as dividends, is tax abuse. Yet an organisation doing exactly this is apparently awarded the Fair Tax Mark.

I think that’s interesting, don’t you?

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16 COMMENTS

  1. Has there been an increase in the fee payable to accompany the transition to the “Fair Enough Mark”?

    Incidentally, that’s a particularly repulsive picture of the young Richard Murphy you have there – he looks like a fascist/duroc cross.

    • Yes, were my business arrangements more complex, I would consider doing all those things every year at tax time. The real perversion is that transactions, when structured to be in a different place or form, are taxed at different rates, not that a business contrives to benefit from this fact.

  2. Are we sure that fine gentleman in the photo would wish to be associated, however peripherally, with the Fair Tax Mark? I know nothing about him. He may well be a bank robber, murderer or serial rapist. But even then, there are limits. Even career criminals have standards.

  3. Maya Forstater recently found the coffee company recently awarded the FTM had shareholder loans. She then linked to a blog by Murph (discussing someone else) who said this behaviour was almost always tax avoidance.

    https://twitter.com/MForstater/status/971372191391547392

    She asked Paul Monaghan (FTM CEO) to explain. He refused to answer to her because she is a polemist or neo liberal or something.

    https://twitter.com/DanNeidle/status/973138356476444672

    All fun

  4. The big picture seems to be that pounds flow into the tills, Caffe Nero pays interest (a business expense), and the debt-holders pay tax on the interest. Caffe Nero also pays its employees (another business expense) and they pay taxes on their incomes. Thus, “Caffe Nero pays no tax” is arbitrary and artificial except to draw boundary lines so as to manufacture inflammatory polemic. Avoidance is not evasion, and structuring your affairs to pay less tax than gadflies would like isn’t illegal either.

  5. “But Paul Monaghan, chief executive of the Fair Tax Mark ethical accreditation scheme, said its tax arrangements are ‘parasitic’ and ‘insulting to the intelligence of the British people’.”

    I expect those same customers would be quite keen for the current tax regime to continue though as they, along with shareholders and employees, are the ones that would actually end up paying the ‘fair tax’ indirectly.

  6. The finding that Murphy engages in some of the same income-shifting that FTM certifies that “moral” businesses do not do, is as Rich as the finding, a couple weeks ago, that Murphy does not exhibit the transparency regarding his benefactors that he scolds every business to exhibit.

  7. The Fair Tax Mark is like the Oscars, awarded on the basis of the opinion of a small body of people who set themselves up as judge and jury.

    Just as the Oscars don’t prove a film is any good, so the FTM, being opinion-based, only proves that the entity is paying the “right” amount of tax in Murphy’s (or his disciple’s) opinion.