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Tax Avoidance Tops List Of UK Business Concerns

by Robert Lee,, London

02 December 2013

More than a third of Brits believe that tax avoidance is the main concern that businesses need to tackle, according to a new survey.

The UK's Institute of Business Ethics has for the last ten years commissioned Ipsos MORI to carry out annual public opinion surveys on the ethical behavior of businesses and the issues that most need addressing. Three questions are always asked: 'How ethically do you think British business generally behaves?' 'How do you think British business is behaving now compared with 10 years ago?', and 'In your view of company behavior, which two or three of these issues most need addressing?'

This year's survey was conducted at the start of September, and involved face-to-face interviews with 996 over-16s.

In 2012, just 48 percent of respondents said that they felt businesses were behaving ethically. This figure has now risen to 59 percent. However, the number of people arguing that business behaves less ethically than it did 10 years ago has shot up by seven percent, to 35 percent.

Remuneration no longer heads the list of public concerns, after six years as the number one issue. Topping the list is tax avoidance. The survey report suggests that people "are perhaps reacting to the frequent allegations in the media and are feeling 'very angry' that many multinational companies are apparently operating very successfully in the UK yet paying little or no corporation tax."

IBE's Director, Philippa Foster, said that the 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."

Tax is also playing its part. As Foster warned, tax "is now clearly a reputational issue and has risen very rapidly up the scale. Trust cannot be taken for granted."

TAGS: compliance | tax | business | tax compliance | tax avoidance | tax incentives | revenue guidance | law | corporation tax | United Kingdom | ministry of finance | tax authority | tax planning | revenue statistics | trade association | trade | Tax | Tax Evasion

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