Is your company walking into an avoidable tax trap?

“Too many companies talk about tax as an abstract obligation…the temptation is to assume that because tax is poorly understood, opaque communication will cause criticism to go away. The opposite is the case,” says a new report called Tax: Time for Action 2014.

Businesses struggle to join the fiery public debate on tax because they cannot articulate their own tax policies or justify their practices in ways that ordinary people understand according to a report.

The paying of corporation tax has become a public issue and in turn, a ripe hunting ground for parts of the media looking to discover a new scandal that can shred a corporate’s reputation.

Starbucks, Vodafone and Google are among the global businesses perceived by public opinion to have flouted the rules even when their arrangements have fallen within the boundaries of the law.

‘Tax: Time for action’ is a practical step-by-step guide to help companies avoid the mistakes and traps that may trigger a media crisis which impacts negatively upon their corporate reputation.

The report, published by Corporate Citizenship, outlines the principles that a business should follow to not just successfully manage its tax but then to communicate it with stakeholders.

The report says ‘prudent’ companies understand that “while the tax issue is complex, the approach needed to manage it is simple”.

The four-step process, MAP, PRINCIPLES, POLICY, COMMUNICATE’, leads the corporate through a journey towards becoming seen as a responsible business and alerts them to a series of common hazards and ‘booby traps’ along the way.

The advice shelled out in the report: ‘Get your facts straight before talking about tax’, ‘Why it’s not just corporation tax but about total impact’, and ‘Why talking in business jargon is fanning the flames’, is all designed to enable businesses to better engage campaigners, the media and politicians on their roles and responsibilities in society.

The report, which concludes with the ‘10 questions all companies should be able to answer on tax principles, policies and processes’ in order to engage effectively in the debate, says: “Only a few years ago tax was a closed-box issue, not seen as part of the corporate reputation agenda. It was a matter solely for governments and tax experts - this is no longer the case. Now is the time for action”.

1) To receive a copy of ‘Tax: Time for action’ or to speak to one of our consultants, please email or visit our website here.

2) Corporate Citizenship is one of the longest standing specialist sustainability consultancies, working with corporations around the world to achieve their commitments to being responsible businesses, built on sustainable practices.

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