A couple of months ago, PR mega firm Bell Pottinger became the latest influential voice to warn companies that their tax affairs are now a key element of corporate responsibility.
According to their briefing in the subject “Tax avoidance is today seen as an evasion of corporate responsibilities.”
The theme was developed in an interview in the FT:
“The mood has changed,” said James Henderson, managing director of Pelham Bell Pottinger, a public relations company. “People expect companies . . . to pay their tax like any other citizen.”
Here at ActionAid, we couldn’t agree more. With tax dodging currently costing poor countries more than they receive in aid each year, the need for companies to approach their tax affairs with a basic sense of responsibility is critical.
So it was very interesting to learn* today that:
“British drinks firm SABMiller has hired Bell Pottinger Public Affairs to help it negotiate with the Government over minimum unit pricing, which it believes will harm the brand's status as a premium drinks firm.”
Given the evidence that SABMiller siphons an estimated £100 million out of Africa and into tax havens each year, this is an extremely interesting development. I wonder if Bell Pottinger will make it a 2 for 1 deal and throw in some advice on tax responsibility too?
As they say, “It is no longer clever to come up with the smartest tax wheeze.” Let’s hope SABMiller gets the message.
*thanks to Rich at Tackle Tax Havens