UK consumers buying elsewhere after tax revelations

Research by Christian Aid suggests growing anger over the amount of tax being paid by multinationals.

A ComRes survey on behalf of the development agency found that 34% of Brits are currently boycotting products or services by companies they believe are not paying their fair share of tax in the UK.

Almost half of those surveyed (45%) said they were considering a boycott.

Two thirds said tax avoidance was morally wrong, up 10 percentage points from August 2012.  A staggering 80% said tax avoidance by multinationals made them feel angry.

Nearly three-quarters (72%) said the Government had a responsibility to ensure all UK-based companies were paying the proper amount of tax in every country where they operate, while 84% said they want the accounts of multinationals to be more transparent and publicly available.

The survey revealed a strong sense of injustice among members of the public at having to pay their taxes, while multinationals can avoid them.  The majority of those surveyed (85%) said it was currently too easy for multinationals to avoid paying their taxes.  

Christian Aid's senior economic justice adviser, Joseph Stead, said the figures were a "wake-up call" to businesses.

"In the run up to the Budget, which we hope the Chancellor will use to require companies to reveal more information about their tax avoidance in developing countries, this is heartening news," he said.

"The public clearly understands the UK has a responsibility to ensure UK plc plays by the rules both home and away – and we hope the Chancellor will show he does too."

The figures revealed a desire for the UK Government to take the lead when it hosts the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland in June.  More than three-quarters (77%) said it was right for David Cameron to make tax evasion and avoidance a priority at the meeting, while 85% said global leaders must stop multinationals from abusing the tax system. 

Just under two-thirds (63%) agreed that strong action on tax avoidance at the G8 could help lift millions of people out of poverty around the world.

Christian Aid estimates that tax avoidance is costing developing countries $160bn each year.

"People understand the importance of developing countries being able to collect tax that is owed to them by multinational corporations," Mr Stead continued.

"Tax is a powerful weapon against poverty and three quarters of Britons agree that if developing countries could collect more tax then they would, in time, be less dependent on international aid, and therefore better able to provide for their own people."