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Evaluating the media: Tax loyalties

PR geekiness - the tools & techniques to gain insights from PR exposure

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Tax loyalties

Image credit: Brandwatch
Like many UK consumer I have been dissuaded from purchasing goods, refreshments and services from the multi-national organisations implicated in the parliamentary investigation into corporate tax avoidance. As a small business operator I don't understand how there is such a chasm between the rules governing a small coffee or book shop from their bigger rival.

I have watched with interest and growing incredulity as organisations like Starbucks try to reinstate their social credentials through their voluntary tax donation and (the massive car crash that is) the  #spreadthecheer sponsored Twitter hashtag.  Google take a different tack and suggest its just entrepreneurial; seeming to run counter to their corporate motto 'don't be evil'.

I am no crisis communications specialist, but the organisation caught up in this I am sure can relatively neatly side-step much of the negativity surrounding this issue. After all, if they were each football teams and were criticised for the rules they play under, that would seem unfair. However, if they do decide to take my approach they will need to be to be brave; as it does not come without risks. Some organisations may have (in part) taken this approach and, if so, I am sorry for my ignorance.

Possibly the multi-national organisations need to acknowledge that the days unceasing growth and consumer ignorance are over. If they get found out doing things they they shouldn't their reputation is toast...just ask the banks. The public does not like to be treated like ignoramuses and the public now have through social media the instruments to propagate their disquiet.

In short, they need to admit the game has changed and offer to work fully with the authorities both nationally and internationally to create a corporate tax structure fit for all types of organisation. They also need to improve their organisational transparency, particularly regarding their finances. Multi-national organisations would also do well to actively push the international  tax regulatory authorities like the OECD to sort this out sooner than later, for as long as this goes no they are vulnerable.


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