We bring together working groups to develop practical ideas and recommendations to taxpayers, government and tax authorities.
We seek to provide a balance between the complexity of some issues with discussion that is engaging and accessible.
We value different perspectives and experiences and seek to build relationships between people who may not always agree.
A number of possibilities lie in store for the UK’s tax system outside the EU. In the context of Brexit, a political climate in which rapid change is possible, a first-principles discussion of tax policy making is not only necessary, but ever more urgent.
This report argues that Brexit provides the opportunity for a ‘culture shift’ on tax policy. This means looking at what can be done differently to build the foundations of a more constructive dialogue, so that all citizens can have a shared understanding of what we are trying to achieve with our tax system, who is responsible for achieving it and who ultimately bears the cost.
“This is an issue that clearly unites a range of different stakeholders. Many heavily contest using tax as a “political football” to attract certain voting demographics at the expense of others in society. For businesses, a competitive regime is secondary to certainty and simplicity in relation to the tax system in order to make long-term decisions. Scrutiny of political decisions is key too – whilst welfare expenditure and benefits are heavily scrutinised by Parliament and the media, civil society groups and the public lack insight into the rationale for, and purpose of, the £100 billion that goes each year into tax reliefs.” – Caroline Macfarland, Common Vision
“The TUC has championed the need for an active industrial policy for many years. We believe it is vital to address the regional disparities and structural in equalities in our economy that prevent the UK from providing good jobs and a decent standard of living for everyone. We have argued in support of strong policies to boost science and innovation, and we have supported various government initiatives in the area of industrial strategy. We would like to explore the opportunities which Brexit brings for new approaches to a coherent active strategy, but it is equally important that this is underpinned by responsible approach to tax reliefs and incentives.” – Kate Bell, TUC
• What specific challenges and opportunities are there to improve the tax policy making process in the context of Brexit and the government’s industrial strategy?
• What principles and objectives underpin tax policy making, and how are policymakers held accountable to these?
• What determines when a tax, tax rate or tax relief is the appropriate mechanism for pursuing an economic objective, or when other government policies and levers are used?
• How could tax policy decisions be measured, disclosed and communicated effectively to increase public scrutiny and understanding, and wider trust in tax authorities and government?
In 2017 Common Vision hosted three working group meetings, and undertook wider ongoing consultation with a range of stakeholders including businesses, trade unions, investors, academics, NGOs and civil servants. We have also drawn on national and international academic literature and government reviews.
This work did not set out to examine specific policies, such as higher or lower tax rates or specific incentives. Rather, its purpose was to outline a set of conditions or criteria which can be applied to scrutinise the legitimacy and effectiveness of policy making on tax.
This workstream is supported and sponsored by the TUC. The Trades Union Congress (TUC) is the voice of Britain at work. It represents nearly six million working people in 52 unions across the economy. It campaigns for more and better jobs and a better working life for everyone, and supports trade unions to grow and thrive.
With the aim of reforming the global tax system so that it “levels the playing field” for developed and developing countries, we have identified a series of areas to consider in order to build and improve the revenue collection in developing countries through tax. We will be exploring these issues in partnership with Wilton Park.
Developing countries rely on collection of corporate taxes, in many ways more than other countries. At the same time, attracting investment from abroad and helping domestic companies to grow are key priorities for many governments. However, much of the current debate around the global tax system does not take developing countries as the starting point. There is a need to explore what measures can be taken by tax authorities, businesses, investors and global civil society to assist in these aims to build tax collection in developing countries.
• What sort of capacity building between companies, governments, investors and tax administrations will strengthen developing countries’ tax administrations?
• What skills and technologies are available to developing and emerging economies to build capacity in order to better manage tax revenues?
• What other factors beyond tax will help encourage investment and how does tax policy making contribute to these?
• How can companies help build a wider tax-paying culture in the countries in which they operate?
We will hold a two-day conference with a range of stakeholders including those working in tax authorities across the world. This will include a series of plenaries and workshops to explore specific issues in more detail.
The conference will be complemented by a series of working group sessions prior to the conference in order to help develop the programme. We will also produce blogs, videos and animations around the conference. Through these activities we will explore what developing countries themselves want from inward investment, and illustrate where best practice of corporates, tax administrations and governments can contribute to these.
Wilton Park is an international forum for strategic discussion, focusing on issues of international security, prosperity and justice. Wilton Park organises nearly 65 events a year in the UK and overseas, bringing together senior representatives from the worlds of politics, diplomacy, academia, business, civil society, the military and the media.
In partnership with Ipsos MORI, this workstream will identify and quantify the ways in which corporate tax behaviour leads to quantifiable business outcomes and added value.
Whilst existing analysis to date has considered what the potential negative impacts or “risks” of irresponsible tax behaviour are, in general, responsible tax behaviour is viewed about as a “hygiene factor” rather than something which is integrated within wider corporate strategy.
We want to explore evidence around whether a positive perceptions of a company’s tax behaviour leads to quantifiable business benefits, as well as how companies may offset risks in their tax practices.
Furthermore, is it possible to quantify the “external benefits” of responsible tax behaviour on the communities, society, and the wider economy in which a business operates?
• What are the business and market issues which stem from corporate tax behaviour and how does this relate to business strategy, corporate positioning and commercial goals?
• How do we define the different types of risk associated with corporate tax behaviour, such as reputational risks, direct costs, consumer attitudes and employee satisfaction?
• Can responsible tax behaviour produce added value for businesses? If so, how?
Working with Ipsos MORI we will produce primary research into the implications of corporate tax behaviour, including how responsibility links to tangible business outcomes. We will identify weak points in evidence and theory and draw on insights from public polling, neuroscience and behavioural analysis.
This workstream is supported by Ipsos MORI’s Social Research Institute, a leader in public sector and social research.
Heather joined CUF in October 2016, having previously been a Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham and, prior to that, at the University of Southampton.
Anita is the tax technical lead and senior policy adviser on tax for the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. She is also a Special Adviser on tax to the Treasury Select Committee of the House of Commons.
Andrew is a Tax Consultant at RSM UK. His main focus is tax dispute resolution and dealing with historic avoidance schemes.
Anneliese is the Labour MEP for the South East of England and is a full member of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee and Panama Papers Committee in the European Parliament. Before becoming an MEP Anneliese was a Senior Lecturer in Public Policy at Aston University.
Grahame is a lecturer and teaching fellow at Edinburgh Napier University. He teaches the dissertation process for accounting students
and researches management accounting.
Kam is a policy and campaigns support officer at the TUC. He has previously worked as a policy advisor for the Electoral Commission and as a research and policy analyst at the race equality think tank The Runnymede Trust.
Stephen Herring is the Head of Taxation at the Institute of Directors. Stephen has specialised in taxation for over thirty years and, before joining the IoD, was a partner in three global accounting firms (Grant Thornton, Ernst & Young and BDO).
George Bull is RSM’s senior tax partner. Described by the Times newspaper as RSM’s “legal sector guru”, George is primarily involved in providing leading-edge business and taxation advice to the legal profession.
Anton Colella is Chief Executive at ICAS, the trade association for Chartered Accountants. Previously he was the Chief Executive of the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA).
Jill is the Programme Director at the Institute of Government, where she directs the Institute’s work on better policy making and arm’s length government. She has previously worked in HM Treasury, Number 10 and Department for Environment, and Food & Rural Affairs.
Emily is the Programme Director at Fair Tax Mark and formerly was the Campaign Manager at the Living Wage Foundation. She also provides advice to a number of campaigns in a personal capacity and sits on the board of Justice 4 Domestic Workers.
Rachel is the Director of Sustainability at SSE plc. She was formerly a speech writer, campaigner and advisor.
Jonathan Riley is Head of Tax at Grant Thornton UK LLP. He was previously inspector of taxes and a senior policy adviser to the president of the board of trade.
Tim is a tax professional and Director of Engaged Consulting. He is very passionate about modern businesses addressing tax issues in a manner fit for the 21st century.
Rebecca Reading is a Partner at RSM-UK, specialising in corporate and international tax. She spent six years leading the in-house tax team in a global manufacturing group, and has a practical and commercial approach to tax.
Loughlin is a Trustee and Senior Adviser to Blueprint for Better Business. He was formerly Global Head of Tax at KPMG.
Kate Bell is the Head of the Economics and Social Affairs Department at the TUC. The Department leads the TUC’s work in many key areas of economic and social policy, seeking to influence public and political debate through a comprehensive programme of research, analysis and events.
Caroline founded CoVi in 2013 and leads our strategic direction and external engagement. She was previously managing director at ResPublica, one of the founding team members of the Power to Change foundation, and was a special advisor to the Big Lottery Fund. In 2015, she was named one of Management Today’s 35 women under 35.
“It has been a fantastic journey so far collaborating with CoVi in order to have open, honest and sometimes challenging conversations on the vitally important subject of responsible tax and the common good.”
“It has been a pleasure working with you to establish the new APPG on responsible tax. Your innovative digital work has paved the way for a truly open and engaging conversation on taxation.”
“No-one else has the same vision of communication about business and finance”.
From 2014-2016, in partnership with KPMG in the UK, we hosted a consultation with a range of business, trade groups and other taxpayers to explore the underlying principles of tax and map out the key areas of contention and consensus.
Following a recommendation in one of our reports, we established an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) in 2015 and provided Secretariat support and policy expertise to the Chair and Officers of the group in its first year.
We’ve also collaborated with civil society organisations including the Fair Tax Mark, Christian Aid, Action Aid and IBIS to share national and international perspectives on responsible tax from campaigners, businesses and investors.