Tax avoidance tops public poll of business concerns
On the day campaigners have filed a complaint with the OECD about Alliance Boots and alleged tax discrepancies, a new poll from the Institute of Business Ethics shows that worries about tax avoidance have shot to the top of public concerns about business behaviour.
The results show that 37% of respondents thought tax avoidance was the main concern that businesses need to address, compared with 30 % of respondents citing remuneration. This pushed remuneration out of the top slot for the first time in six years. The ability of employees to speak out about company wrong doing was rated the third most significant concern at 22% with business attitudes to the environment and human rights coming in significantly lower at 16% and 15% respectively.
Asked whether business generally behaves ethically, 59 % of respondents said it did compared with only 48% in last year’s survey (and 58 % in 2011), but there has been an increase of seven percentage points to 35% in the numbers of those who believe that business behaves less ethically now than it did ten years ago.
The findings show that older people aged 55 and above are more likely to think that business is not behaving ethically than younger people.
Commenting on the results, Philippa Foster Back OBE, IBE’s Director, said: “These results could indicate that business has clawed back some of the public trust lost in the wake of the financial crisis. But confidence remains fragile with a year on year increase in those saying that business is less ethical than it was ten years ago. Tax is also now clearly a reputational issue and has risen very rapidly up the scale. Trust cannot be taken for granted.”
The survey of public opinion was conducted for the Institute of Business Ethics by Ipsos MORI.
- Research by the anti-poverty charity War on Want and the US labour federation Change to Win has triggered a complaint today with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The complaint accuses the high street and healthcare giant of violating the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises through inadequate disclosure about insider transactions and its avoidance of tax by apparently paying out interest to related entities rather than treating those payouts as taxable dividends.