The Fair Tax Mark scheme was launched yesterday as a measure of gauging a company’s tax affairs, which its founders say will prompt a more responsible corporate approach to tax.

The scheme claims to be the first independent accreditation scheme to address the issue of responsible tax in businesses.

The Mark works by giving companies a score out of 20 based on their tax procedures, rating them on a series of facts, including their tax compliance, having a clear tax policy, a registered address for the company, narrative disclosure and tax rate paid.

Having no tax policy instantly costs the company five points.

Richard Murphy, one of the founders of the Fair Tax Mark, told economia:

“Around the world and here in the UK people are now aware that many big businesses routinely fail to pay the taxes they really owe. What they now want to do is spend their money with those companies who are doing the right thing by seeking to pay the fair tax that they owe in the right place at the right time.”

The first businesses to be accredited include Midcounties Co-operative, Unity Trust Bank and The Phone Co-op. Fair Tax Mark currently only rates UK and UK trading companies.

The scheme has also received support from Margaret Hodge MP, the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, who has been an active critic of the tax arrangements of many large multinational corporations.

The scheme is unaffiliated with HMRC who, it is reported, declined to comment on the particulars of any Tax Mark scheme. However, an HMRC spokesperson told economia:

“The vast majority of businesses pay the tax they owe. We clamp down on the minority who bend or break the rules.”