Justin King, Sainsbury executive, has voiced concerns against businesses who do not believe that tax obligations are also moral obligations.
King spoke at the annual CBI conference, on the Buisness Trust Under the Spotlight panel, explaining his belief that tax is a necessary component in a successful economy.
As the general public commonly understands the needs for tax he feels it is important for all companies to explicitly express their views on the matter in order for the consumer to include this in their assessment of a company.
He also revealed the taxation processes that supermarkets are obligated to follow. He explained Sainsbury pays a total of 59% tax through a combination of VAT, corporation tax in addition to business charges.
He added, “Every business in a position of trust should be able to stand up and try to explain why they arrange their affairs the way they do. They should be happy to make the case if they believe they have nothing to hide,” he continued, “The vast majority of individuals in this country don’t get to elect where they pay their tax but some corporations do. I have a very simple view on it – a corporation should be prepared to stand up and say what tax it pays and why it chooses where to pay it – because if we’re doing nothing wrong, which is usually the thing I hear asserted, then we should have no problem at all laying it bare to public scrutiny.”
Trust is an essential component in creating a fruitful relationships with consumers and this is a point that King reiterated and he did not exempt his company from this rule.
Although his stance opposed the views of the CBI, who feel that tax should not be discussed in moral terms, he had support from a number of other business leaders such as Lord Tony Hall of the BBC and Sir Richard Olver, the chairman of BAE Systems. The CEO of gas company Centrica, Sam Laidlaw, also agreed with King and opted out of his yearly bonus this year due to the rising public anger at higher energy bills.
President of the CBI, Sir Michael Rake, spoke on the increasing public aggression towards business. He said, “Some of the rhetoric we’ve heard recently suggests that business is somehow the enemy – we are not, and this could not be further from the truth. We want to be, we can be, and we are partners in building prosperity.”
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