A third of top businesses legally reduce tax bills

A third of the UK's leading businesses use legal tax planning strategies to reduce the amount of tax they pay, research from YouGov shows.

The survey, which questioned business decision makers and members of the public, found that 34 per cent of the highest earning businesses and individuals take advantage of measures to reduce their tax liability, compared with just 18 per cent of SMEs.

The survey follows last month's G8 summit in which Prime Minister David Cameron put tax and transparency at the heart of the UK's agenda.
YouGov said recent high-profile coverage of larger organisations and their approach to tax management appeared to be affecting the attitudes of other businesses. Its survey found:

  • fewer leading businesses (24 per cent down from 34 per cent) believe their organisations will look to minimise their tax bill in five years' time
  • the number of SMEs looking to do so increased (21 per cent up from 18 per cent)
  • almost two thirds (64 per cent) of the British public believe larger UK companies take advantage of tax minimising strategies
  • only one in five think these businesses comply with the 'spirit and letter of the law
  • only one in five also believe that businesses take views of stakeholders into account when determining what tax to pay and where.

Oliver Rowe, director of reputation research at YouGov, said: "The recent G8 agreement shows how much of a big political issue corporate tax is."

"Our findings show that with so many leading business people believing their organisations will no longer take advantage of tax planning over the next five years, they either expect rules to be tightened or the potential for reputational damage to be too high."

"However, SMEs are not moving in the same direction. Possibly they think tax changes won't affect them or they feel the opportunity to keep more money in the business outweighs the likelihood of suffering reputational damage."

We can advise on tax planning and ways to legitimately reduce your corporate tax liability.