The MP for Streatham said the measure was needed as the controversial behaviour of a few major corporations was damaging the reputation of the “overwhelming majority” of businesses and the relationship between corporate Britain and the rest of society reports The Telegraph.
“The perception of UK companies has become characterised by the more extreme examples which is grossly unfair on the overwhelming majority of businesses in this country who are making a huge contribution to the exchequer,” he said.
“To put it in context…in the tax year 2010/11, business paid £163bn in tax [in Britain]. That is the equivalent to the defence, education and transport budgets for this financial year.”
Mr Umunna’s comments follow a wave of shareholder revolts over so-called “fat cat” pay, and controversy over the modest corporation taxes that some of the country’s biggest businesses pay to the UK Exchequer.
Last week, it emerged that Vodafone paid absolutely no corporation tax in the UK last year, despite taking £1.3bn in earnings before tax and interest. The mobile giant is likely to excite public anger even further later today, when shareholders vote over whether Vodafone can forge ahead with its £1.1.bn bid for Cable & Wireless Worldwide.
Analysts have speculated that Vodafone wants to buy C&WW partly because of its tax liabilities, although the mobile company denies this is the case.
Mr Umunna said British companies should be obliged to make clear how much they pay in corporation taxes in Britain, in a way that is easy for the layman and not just tax lawyers and accountants to read.
He stopped short of saying that companies should declare how much they pay to HMRC in the form of employers’ National Insurance payments, business rates and fuel taxes, but has urged Ed Balls, the Shadow Chancellor, to declare once a year how much the public purse receives from British business as a whole.