Thursday, 21 June 2012

Carr tax dodge Morally wrong - but Legal

I had the pleasure of meeting Jimmy Carr once, about four years ago now in Kennsington where we had seen his stand up. My wife and I queued up with many others post gig to get our programs signed and where the man himself waited for an hour after the show in casual clothes with a marker pen and traded niceties with fans and the odd joke.

It is fair to say that, although his brand of comedy is not shared by everyone, he is indeed a large figure on the comedy circuit and television and he has indeed made a fair amount of money.

I'm not surprised by the story that was broken by The Times. After all many who have large sums of money and either a canny business sense or the number of a good accountant will often strive to keep their money their money. Jimmy Carr wasn't a name that I would have pulled forth but why not?

It has been suggested that Mr Carr shelters £3.3 million in a completely legal scheme which protects a thousand peoples money, totalling £168m from all but 1% of tax in Jersey. The K2 scheme is completely legal and had been fully exposed to the HMRC.

Jimmy Carr has apologised for the involvement and has now put his money where the HMRC can get a bigger slice.

David Cameron said that:

I think some of these schemes - and I think particularly of the Jimmy Carr scheme - I have had time to read about and I just think this is completely wrong.
People work hard, they pay their taxes, they save up to go to one of his shows. They buy the tickets. He is taking the money from those tickets and he, as far as I can see, is putting all of that into some very dodgy tax avoiding schemes.

This is true. After all taxes hit all of us and we, the majority, pay our fair share - why shouldn't the rich?

Well yes that's true but the whole scheme is legal and above board. I find myself agreeing with Ed Miliband *shudder* for the first time...

I'm not in favour of tax avoidance obviously, but I don't think it is for politicians to lecture people about morality. I think what the politicians need to do is - if the wrong thing is happening - change the law to prevent that tax avoidance happening.

After all we can all tut and shake our heads about how wrong and unfair it may be but at the end of the day it is legal. It is down to Parliament to legislate and for the Police to investigate. The Coalition needs to take steps in this direction and soon. However there will always be a clever accountant who knows where to move money around to protect it - that's how they earn their keep.

So while I think that Jimmy Carr's actions are unfair compared to the rest of us they are legal and thus beyond official rebuke.

Though as a passing shot from the Libdem cannon... How above board are the taxes of News corp the owners of The Times?

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