A public opinion poll on behalf of BBC Radio 4 Decision Time.
Date Published: 07 Jun 2011
Categories: Economy | Politics | Public and communities | UK
Overview: In general, people think that the government should crack down on tax avoidance in the UK (84%). Even if this causes unemployment or companies to leave the UK, the majority (60%) still believe the government should crack down on this practice. However, opinion is split over the role of companies in minimising tax, through lawful means, in order to maximise returns to their stakeholders – highlighting the tension that tax avoidance brings for companies.
The public is split as follows:
• 7% of people always think tax avoidance is ok (i.e. disagree with s1 and agree with s3)
• 29% of people never think tax avoidance is ok (i.e. agree with s2 and disagree with s3)
• 64% of people give inconsistent answers – sometimes saying it is ok and sometimes saying it is not.
Tax avoidance is where people or businesses arrange their financial affairs to minimise the amount of tax they pay while remaining within the law. Thinking about tax avoidance, do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements?
The Government should crack down on tax avoidance by businesses operating in the UK.
Don’t know: 3%
• 18-24 year olds (77%) are less likely than other age groups to agree.
• People in Scotland are most likely to agree (93%)
• People in social group AB are slightly less likely to agree than other social groups (80% of people in AB, compared to between 83% and 87% from other groups)
The Government should crack down on tax avoidance by businesses, even if it causes unemployment, or some companies to leave the UK.
Don’t know: 6%
• Men are more likely to agree than women – 62% and 57% respectively
• 18-24 year olds are more likely to disagree with this statement than agree – 45% agree and 54% disagree (the other age groups are more likely to agree than disagree)
• 71% of 55-64 year olds agree, with 23% disagreeing
If companies can reduce the amount of tax they pay then they should do so because their first duty is to maximise returns to their shareholders.
Don’t know: 8%
• British opinion is split over whether companies should try to reduce the tax they pay in order to maximise returns to shareholders
• Opinion is fairly consistent across all demographics
Methodology note: ComRes interviewed 1001 GB adults by telephone between 20th and 23rd May 2011. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all GB adults. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.