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Paying their way: which UK retailer is ‘fairest’ on tax?

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A campaign set up to promote transparency in corporate tax affairs has ranked 25 of the UK's largest retailers on the ‘fairness' of their tax contributions.

Fair Tax, set up by Tax Research UK director Richard Murphy, assessed the firms against three metrics – financial reporting, their UK tax rates (and how much is paid on their UK profits) and whether they use tax havens – and gave each a ‘Fair Tax Mark’.

Carphone Warehouse Group, Home Retail Group, J Sainsbury and WH Smith all received a total of two marks out of a possible 15, with the latter marked down for failing to provide a geographical breakdown of its data, despite operating in eight countries.

Other companies to receive low scores included Tesco (4), John Lewis Partnership (5) and Mothercare (6).

Here, we reveal the top five companies as ranked by Fair Tax:

=5 Marks & Spencer 9
The company provides sales and operating profit plus tax data for its UK operations, but it was marked down for a lack of transparency about the operations of subsidiaries in tax havens including Guernsey, the Isle of Man and Hong Kong.

=5 C&J Clark 9
The shoe manufacturer and retailer provides a detailed breakdown of its profit and tax data, according to Fair Tax, but it received a score of just one for its tax haven use. This is because it only lists some of its subsidiaries.

4 Asos 10
The fashion retailer provides only full aggregated group data, though it breaks down revenues from operations in the UK, EU, USA and the rest of the world. Weighted over six years, ASOS’s current tax charge is 7.9% more than the amount of tax expected globally, Fair Tax said, though it does not supply data on its UK profits.

3 Dunelm Group 10
The homewares retailer got top marks for financial reporting and its tax rate (which was within 3% of that expected). However, Fair Tax said the company does not provide a full list of subsidiaries and cannot, therefore, tell whether it uses tax havens.

2 Majestic Wine 14
Fair Tax said the bulk-buy wine giant provides full turnover, profit and tax data for the UK and France, the two countries in which it operates, and pays an appropriate amount of tax on its UK profits. The company does not use tax haven subsidiaries.

1 Greggs 15
Greggs only operates in the UK and supplies full sales, profit and tax data on its operations. Fair Tax said that, weighted over six years, the company has an average current tax rate within 3% of that expected, which has been paid on its appropriate UK profits. It also has no tax haven subsidiaries.

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