Posted by Christie Malry on June 16, 2013 at 9:41 pm
About six months after Richard Murphy first told us about how he was planning to create a 'tax mark' scheme to tell the world which companies pay a fair amount of tax, the Fair Tax Mark finally launched this week.
And it's every bit as bad and stupid as I thought it would be when I first read about it. Don't take my word for it. Ben Saunders has written an excellent analysis of its many flaws. While he's filed it (inter alia) under 'Ranting', this is in fact a very serious criticism of the underlying methodology of Fair Tax Mark and, in my mind, is sufficient for the entire programme to be mothballed until the failures he has identified can be addressed.
The only thing I would fault Ben for is that he's left little room for anyone else to blog about the methodological flaws of Fair Tax Mark. That's my own stupid fault for being so lazy. So I'll focus on something else.
The Fair Tax Mark is the work of a 'team': Richard Murphy and Meesha Nehru. Meesha's LinkedIn page describes herself as 'Researcher for Fair Tax Campaign/Tax Justice Network'
Good for her. Legally, the campaign is run by a company, Fair Tax Campaign (company number 8554400). This is a company limited by guarantee. It's not due to file accounts until 03/03/2015. And this is a problem. Because there's very little information available about this company. We know Murphy is a director (the company has its registered office as his shed in Norfolk). We know that Meesha is in the 'team'. But we don't know anything more.
This is despite the fact that the company is soliciting for donations. What will the money be used for? The website says that funds are needed to 'assess more companies'. But what does this mean? Researching a company means, presumably, handing money over to Meesha to pay her for her time in pulling down public information to prepare more reports. But on what basis does the company demand that she do this? Is she an employee of Fair Tax Campaign? If not, why not? If not, on what basis does the company recognise revenue? Or profit?
I asked the campaign's Twitter account for clarification and got a response that could best be described as 'flaccid':
So it's quite clear that it's one rule for the companies it reports on and it's quite another when it comes to itself. This is, quite simply, Not Good Enough. An organisation that demands higher-than-legal transparency standards of other companies must, surely, hold itself to higher-than-legal transparency standards? It's clear that Fair Tax Campaign must issue budgeted financial information immediately, to make it clear where donors' money will go.