Waking in a panic in the early hours of the morning has become normal. The overdraft limit is looming yet again, as it does for freelancers everywhere. But this time, it’s different. It’s not about lack of work, because I’ve got plenty. A small company or an individual unable to pay hasn’t caused the problem. It’s the global conglomerates and their unwillingness to pay on time.
Why do many large organisations lack corporate conscience?
Well, I have this theory. Small companies tend to have one or two employees. The company owner plays a big part in keeping the business going. In fact, the likelihood is that they throw their heart and soul into it. Their organisation is their life’s work. Their hopes and dreams, their income and expenditure. So when they work with other small business owners or freelancers, they understand.
They feel a sense of responsibility that comes with knowing what it’s like to have a family to feed. Or save up for your first home, pay the bills or just keep a roof over your head. That individual understands how it feels to strive every day to build your business when people keep putting obstacles in your way.
Individuals experience empathy and, for the most part, they want to do what is right. Bills are paid on time, accounts are kept and tax responsibilities are exercised. They don’t look for loopholes and schemes to avoid paying tax. Because taxes are for the benefit of society, a society that they are part of.
The faceless corporate machine
When businesses grow, the responsibilities are shared out. One person carries out face-to-face interaction with suppliers, whilst another processes the invoices and someone else authorises payment. For every individual on the shop floor, there are ten buried in the middle of the organisation thinking of more ways to make money.
And yet, there is no individual whose personal conscience persuades them to do the right thing. Nobody cares about the freelancer who risks losing everything because of an unpaid invoice. There is no good samaritan willing to stand against the tide and say no to tax avoidance. Because it’s not their problem. They just work there. For the juggernaut on a collision cause, trashing lives as it barrels along.
But some corporations are different. Those conglomerates where an individual has retained enough interest in the business to ensure they do the right thing. Avoid environmental destruction, settle invoices on time and pay their tax.
The devastating effects of tax dodging
Oxfam recently released a hard-hitting video that shows the impact of tax evasion by big corporations. They are calling on the Chancellor to commit to implementing tougher tax laws for UK-based multinationals by the end of 2019. Public reporting requirements could lead to better transparency on corporate taxation. This will allow the enforcement of corporation tax so that governments can use the money to tackle poverty and provide essential services like healthcare.