Why we think it's important that we pay our fair share of tax
In 2018, when we were an agency business rather than what we are now, a business that supports agency leaders, we were the very first digital agency to be awarded the Fair Tax Mark.
Today we're extremely happy to say that we've been accredited again, and we thought it would good to say a bit about why we're so proud to have this award.
Seeing government up close
For the years that we were an agency business, we worked mostly in the public sector, where we got to see the work of government up close.
Like any large organisation of human beings it’s not perfect, but we were frequently struck by the importance of the work that gets done, and the dedication with which it gets done by many brilliant people trying to make life a bit better for all of us.
It’s worth remembering — most of government work goes on behind the scenes of the noisy politics we see in the news and drama. That real work of government is the daily grind of public servants making sure our public services run smoothly.
Those services are funded by the taxes we all pay, not out of charity but because we need the things government does. We need education and healthcare and transport networks and defence and rule of law and everything else.
Bigger than Kickstarter
Government is essentially a big crowdfunding scheme. Imagine if Elon Musk, having sold you a Tesla, then ran a kickstarter where, for a subscription of just a few hundred pounds a year, he’d build and maintain an entire road network around the country for you to drive it on and provide emergency services to ensure your safety on the roads? It’d seem like a bargain, right?
Somehow this work being done at scale and by a less-cool organisation like government means that people don’t connect up the cost they pay with the value they get — so they resent chipping in their share, and try to avoid it.
All that stuff works when we all pool our needs and risks together, and have one single body, government, run it on our behalf.
We’re not like that at Convivio, and we wanted to show it. But this isn’t some crazy lefty do-goody thing. This is enlightened self-interest:
- We want to be able to recruit diverse people who have had a good education.
- We want all our team members to be able to access good healthcare for themselves and their families so they’ll be healthy and happy.
- We want good transport infrastructure to be able to travel to do our work, especially as we’re a Free Range company.
- We want everyone in the country to be able to live somewhere safe, eat well, be healthy, and be able to take care of their families, to be able to learn throughout their lives, and be confident they will be safe and secure in old age — because we believe these are basic human rights; and when basic rights are taken care of crime rates go down and the economy grows, creating a better environment to run a business in.
- We want our country to nurture good international relationships, to be able to easily travel and do business abroad, particularly in our close neighbouring countries in Europe.
- We want to be able to operate in a safe and stable legal and economic environment.
These are just a very small number of the benefits we get as a company from this crowd-funding scheme called taxation.
You’ll notice, however, that some of the benefits mentioned above are areas where political ideology has got in the way of the provision of the service we want. But we believe that still doesn’t excuse us from paying our fair share. Public services aren’t a menu to pick and choose from. If the government of the day is doing something you disagree with, just imagine the tax you pay isn’t being spent on that, it’s only being diverted to the stuff you want.
So we want to chip in and pay our share, and do it enthusiastically. We want to pay Fair Tax.
Convivio, the first Fair Tax digital agency
When we launched Convivio, we made some important choices that would shape the business we have become.
From the start, we agreed we would take an approach of being radically transparent. As a major part of that, we decided that each year we would publish our financial results.
To make sure we did what we said we were doing, we wrote ourselves a fair tax policy — as a part of our commitment to transparency, we wanted to explicitly state our approach to paying tax fairly, and to show exactly how much tax we pay.
But we also wanted to be independently audited for this, and that’s when we found the Fair Tax Mark. They reviewed our accounts, and scrutinised our level of transparency.
And we were so happy that we were accredited on our very first attempt. As the auditor said in their notes to us:
“This is commendable, given that it is not common for a company to reach a passing score without the need to make changes to their reporting.”
Since we were first awarded the Fair Tax Mark, we've taken the feedback on our submission and adapted the things we do, and we've improved our score each year — we're aiming for the maximum possible. As a consequence, the Fair Tax Mark assessors have said they regard us as an exemplar, impressed that we’ve gone above and beyond the requirements to achieve the Mark.
Our corporate citizenship
Convivio continues to this day in that same commitment.
We continue to be a good corporate citizen. We support and celebrate public service. We play our part, wherever we can, and we work to be fair and transparent about it. We pay our fair share of tax. As we continue to grow and our profits grow, our contribution will grow too.
More than that, we want to inspire other agencies to get the mark, and we offer our support to help them achieve that.
We believe this is the true spirit of entrepreneurship.
If you're an agency leader and would like to chat over what it takes to be accredited, and what the benefits are, we'd be very happy to spare 30 mins for a zoom chat — get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.