Owned by members as a mutual, the building society dates back to 1875. It is the fifth largest in the country, with 55 branches in the UK and Gibraltar.
Co-operative businesses have been at the forefront of the campaign against tax avoidance. Launched in 2014, the mark was initially pioneered by the first three businesses to obtain it, the Phone Co-op, the Midcounties Co-operative and Unity Trust Bank.
Leeds Building Society has become the 45th organisation to obtain the mark, joining the Co-op Group, Radstock Co-operative, East of England Co-operative, Unicorn Grocery, Scotmid Co-operative and the 8th Day Co-operative.
Revolver World co-operative, Co-operatives UK, the Co-operative Party and the Ecology Building Society also have the Fair Tax Mark accreditation.
Enterprises that sign up for the mark show that they are paying the right amount of corporation tax, at the right time, in the right place. Lush Cosmetics, SSE, Unity Trust Bank and Timpson are also among the accredited businesses.
Over the past four years, Leeds Building Society has paid an average £22m per annum in corporation tax. The society has published a new tax strategy, which recognises that tax pays for vital public services and details its commitment to shun tax avoidance.
Paul Monaghan, chief executive of the Fair Tax Mark, said: “We are delighted to announce the Fair Tax Mark certification of Leeds Building Society.
“At a time when the public is growing used to headlines about big corporates shifting profits to tax havens and minimising the contributions they make to the public purse, it’s refreshing to see a high street name letting customers know that it’s proud to pay its taxes.
“Leeds Building Society is taking corporate responsibility around tax transparency seriously, making it clear where it generates income and pays taxes. Here in the UK, the society pays millions of pounds in tax year after year.”
Richard Fearon, deputy chief executive at Leeds Building Society, said: “We’re proud to be the first national high-street financial institution to achieve the Fair Tax Mark. At Leeds Building Society we recognise the public services paid for through tax, benefit our members, colleagues and communities, and help create the strong foundations we need to thrive as a business in the long term. That’s why we’re committed to paying our fair share and reporting our tax affairs transparently to our stakeholders.
“It is our policy to comply with all applicable tax laws and regulations in the jurisdictions in which we operate. We have formally adopted HM Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC) Code of Practice on Taxation for Banks and aim to pay the right amount of tax, at the right time, in compliance with the spirit, as well as the letter, of the law.”
As part of the accreditation process, the Leeds Building Society has provided extra details on its economic activities outside of the UK. It has also committed to adding further information to its public country-by-country reporting in forthcoming annual reports.
“It is estimated that €600bn of corporate profits are shifted annually to tax havens, with corporate tax revenue losses globally of €200bn per year – which equates to approximately £7bn of missing revenues in the UK.
“Paying the right amount of tax is about fairness and ensuring a level playing field for business. It can’t be right when an organisation like Leeds Building Society is paying significantly more tax than multinational businesses generating huge margins via their operations in the UK. The Fair Tax Mark is one way that consumers can easily recognise those who are doing the right thing, and show their support through using their goods and services.”