Just a short piece this week, kids.
Sit down, cross your legs – we’re going to talk about taxes.
Semi-hilarious and reasonably controversial British comedian Jimmy Carr has been unveiled by The Times newspaper as a rife tax-avoider.
Carr is one of those one-liner comics who seem to walk the same libel suit tightropes as Frankie ‘Visible Eczema’ Boyle with cracks about anyone and anything within hollering distance including - funnily enough – the UK Tory-led Government: more on which later.
Apparently, Carr has sent more than £3.3m to the tax-haven Island Jersey to a company called K2, which then sends that same coinage back in the form of a personal loan which is not subject to income tax.
All up, he pays roughly 1% tax of what he should.
The once-pudgy Carr was recently heckled about the sniveling scheme during a live show to which he responded “I pay what I have to and not a penny more”.
Some might look upon Carr’s actions as surprising given his regular slot as regular host of 10 O’clock Live, alongside David Mitchell and Charlie Brooker. To say that the show leans to the left would be an understatement. Yet that surprise blow to Carr’s reputation really ought to be lessened owing to his history as an exec at oil company Shell during the early part of his career.
The buffoonish Tory Prime Minister David Cameron has waded wondrously in to the debate, insisting that “people work hard, they pay their taxes, they save up to go to one of [Carr’s] 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. That is wrong.”
This is coming from the man who rushed to look up the word “pasty” in the Oxford Dictionary during the ‘Pastygate’ scandal of March this year and the subsequent U-turn. Also from the man who has never had to ‘save up’ for anything in his life.
But this is also coming from the man who allowed the news of Amazon.com’s zero corporate tax bill to drift in to the ether. More than £7bn was transferred to a Luxembourg holding company over three years.
This is the same man who fell silent after members of his Customs and Revenues department made an allegedly illegal deal with Vodafone to cull their £4.8bn tax bill.
It’s a blunt slap to the face laced with hypocrisy that he berates an individual for being “morally wrong” whilst encouraging groups of people whose consequences have further reaching implications than Carr’s.
Think of all the police, health service, and education jobs could have been saved by the collection of both Vodafone and Amazon’s tax bills. Go after them Mr. Cameron! They are the ones who are morally reprehensible.
Vodafone UK once said on their website that “the maximisation of shareholder value will generally involve the minimisation of taxation” but if we’re to apply that ethos to Mr Carr, does that mean we’ll get better comedy out of him if he earns more and refuses to pay his fair share?
Probably not: he’ll always be an offensive and desperate comedian.
Now, he’s an offensive and desperate human being too.
Acknowledgements: James A. Robins