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Jimmy Carr Apologises Over Tax Avoidance Scheme

Posted on the 21 June 2012 by Periscope @periscopepost
Jimmy Carr in his Barclays Sketch Jimmy Carr in his Barclays Sketch Photocredit: 4OD

The background

The comedian Jimmy Carr has apologised for using a legal tax avoidance scheme, which Prime Minister David Cameron called “morally wrong,” reported the BBC. Over 1,000 people are thought to use the scheme, called K2 and based in Jersey. It means that individuals “resign” from a company, and their salary is then paid into a trust, resulting in payment of income tax at a 1 per cent level. Carr had £3.3 million in the scheme. It was thought particularly hypocritical, since the comedian had castigated Barclays Bank for tax avoidance in a television sketch for the Ten O’Clock Live show (watch it below.) The government has long since claimed that it will look into the affairs of those avoiding tax in such a manner; members of the boyband Take That are the latest to come under scrutiny. But are the government barking up the wrong tree?

“I’m no longer involved in it and will in future conduct my financial affairs much more responsibly. Apologies to everyone,” said Jimmy Carr.

Jimmy Carr is morally wrong

David Cameron said, when asked, quoted on the BBC, that it was unfair that people who paid money to see Jimmy Carr paid taxes in a proper manner. Investing in pensions to avoid tax was fine; but this sort of tax avoidance was wrong.

David Cameron shouldn’t lecture people about morality

Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, leapt into the fray, and said, quoted on The Daily Telegraph,  that while it was obvious that he wasn’t in favour of tax avoidance, David Cameron shouldn’t “lecture people about morality.”

Cameron’s opened up the field to journalists

Ian Dunt on said that David Cameron has now left the field open for journalists to attack his own cabinet members – just as John Major’s “Back to Basics” scheme allowed hacks to look into his colleagues’ private lives.

Cameron’s made a good calculation; but nobody has to maximise their income for tax

So how much tax should Mr Carr pay? asked Paul Goodman on Conservative Home. 20 per cent? 40 per cent? 45 per cent? Or should we just let Polly Toynbee decide? Cameron’s made a careful calculation over this – sure, he risks damaging his party donors and so on; but he also risks damage by not bring the attention, thus allowing Ed Milliband to get one over him. But the problem is there’s no “obligation on anyone to maximise the amount of income they pay in tax.”

Tax avoidance is repugnant

Alex Brummer on the Daily Mail said that ten million taxpayers struggled with their tax forms every year, recording “every penny of paltry interest”, living “in terror.”30 million pay via PAYE. We regard it as a “civil duty” to pay for public services. No wonder we feel disgusted when we see rich people avoiding tax. Labour’s anger should be aimed at all these people – like Jimmy Carr; Google, and Amazon. The problem is that these schemes proliferate. These people shift the burden to “prdinary people.”

Hang on a minute – don’t focus on individual behaviour; look at the economy as a whole

Nonsense, said Tim Black on Spiked. Carr’s scheme is a “bit cheeky,” sure. But this “backlash” against him is “out of all proportion.” We’re just trying to blame him “for the sins of our current world.” We’re obsessed with it. But despite what people say, there’s no “real economic critique” going on – people who don’t pay enough tax didn’t cause the economic crisis; nor will making them pay more tax solve it. To do that, “we need to forget a wealth-creating, productive economy.” Pursuit of tax avoiders is motivated by “moralising ire.” But we shouldn’t focus on individuals like this – it won’t do us “any favours in the long run.”

Don’t know why Jimmy Carr is apologising. He’s done nothing illegal and has probably paid more tax than many do in a lifetime.

— Annie Eaves (@AnnieEaves) June 21, 2012

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