Crickhowell – a small Welsh town in the Brecon Beacons – is currently seeing a revolt. An alliance of local businesses has formed to see if they can apply the same tax avoidance tactics used by big multinationals like Amazon and Google, which reportedly cost the UK billions each year.
Some of the market town's local traders have launched the Fair Tax Town campaign to encourage UK businesses to "call for a change to a tax system which seems to be one rule for the big guys, and another for a small businesses". The Fair Tax Town website explains the frustration:
Unlike the big corporations, we believe in paying tax. It pays for important stuff like roads and schools and hospitals. It’s just that we’ve had enough of paying for it all ourselves, whilst our big competitors don’t pay theirs.
Emma, Crickhowell bookshop owner
The town's experiment will feature in a programme on BBC Two in 2016 – The Town that Went Offshore. But the for now the details of the legal tax scheme will remain secret. The town's act of rebellion is the first ever attempt to emulate the behaviour of the global companies and to highlight the unfairness of a system that lets big multinationals get away with not paying tax.
The result? Well, the Crickhowell residents claim to have set up 2 holding companies and a way of moving profits to a tax haven. According to the Independent newspaper's website, HMRC is currently examining the new scheme.
Jonathan Isaby, CEO of the Tax Payers' Alliance comments that the "hideously complex" tax code makes it easier for well-paid accountants to run rings around HMRC.
"The power to make our tax system simpler lies in the hands of politicians, so they must stop grandstanding and actually do something to reform it. Taxpayers deserve simpler, lower taxes as well as a system they can trust."The UK's very first Fair Tax Town is urging other towns to get involved, by watching the video and pledging support.