Thursday, 21 June 2012

Don't attack Jimmy Carr

By coincidence this post is also about a David Cameron quote (see Tory Party at Prayer). According to him tax avoidance schemes are morally wrong and he attacks comedian Jimmy Carr for exploiting a loophole. However anyone who employs an accountant will be paying for advice as to how they can legally pay as little tax as possible. Is Jimmy paying enough in tax? Of course he is. If David doesn't think so then he should change the law and then I am sure that Jimmy would change his ways. The comedian (Jimmy) tells us that he pays what he has to pay.

David tugs at the heartstrings by telling us that those who pay their tax then spend their hard-earned money to go and watch the comedian. If a loan from Jimmy's own company is totally legal then on what grounds does David attack the scheme? Actually I don't mind the Prime Minister attacking the process, even if I don't know why, as it just shows deficiencies in Government policy and errors in not seeing loopholes and further failings by not correcting the situation. What I do object to is the personal attack on Jimmy Carr. It is one thing for politicians to behave like naughty children and criticise each other. It is quite another matter to criticise high profile individuals working legally.

Ed Miliband was asked for his views and he is not in favour of tax avoidance? Why not? Does he have an accountant and does his accountant tell Ed how to save money and does Ed ignore him? I don't think so.

Why does David Cameron think that some types of avoidance are morally repugnant? What does he think is acceptable tax avoidance? The Prime Minister is hoping for good headlines by telling us about hard working honest people but all it tells me is that David Cameron and Ed Miliband don't know what they are saying.

Change the world


  1. There is a big grey area between, at onme extreme, paying the taxes that most waged or pensioned people clearly must pay and, at the other end, moving a lot of income, earned in a high-tax country, to a tax haven or tax free zone, and thus avoiding supporting the economy which allowed you to make the money in the first place.
    Many people with less secure income work in this area and they do need planning - to put aside money for taxes and retirement at least.
    But they decide where in this grey zone they work and if they have a public profile, their actions can become subject to public scrutiny.
    Jimmy Carr has an insecure job. He may be making a lot now, but this could taper off or even end suddenly, so he needs the planning.
    But he's not naive. He criticises others in his material, including those who are blatantly avoiding taxes. He's like a politician in that way. If he's going to dish it out, he has to be prepared to take it.
    And perhaps to re-assess where in grey zone his tax planning operates, and be prepared to justify it.

  2. Thanks for your comment. It now seems that Jimmy has changed his mind about his tax avoidance but this hasn't been the case with many other high profile characters. The Rolling Stones were notorious for moving their money around the world. Lord Ashcroft, the non-dom, preferred to use his money to support the Tory Party. Jack Walker preferred to support Blackburn Rovers.

    If we are serious about correcting loopholes then let's correct loopholes and not publicly criticise individuals who use them.

  3. With respect, if prominent folk like Jimmy Carr satirise tax dodgers and like Bono and Bob Geldoff demand government action in support of their causes, as far as I'm concerned if exposed, they deserve all the criticism and ridicule they get for being canting humbugs.

  4. Thanks for your comment Richard. I am always grateful for the possibility of clarifying my thoughts and I am still not clear what Jimmy has done wrong. I enjoyed Ken Dodd telling jokes about his dealings with the tax office even after he was found not guilty of tax evasion - which reminds me of George Carman's quote "Some accountants are comedians, but comedians are never accountants". There is no suggestion that Jimmy has done anything that would even get him on the phone to a lawyer never mind put him in court.

    It will be a sad day when we start telling comedians what they can tell jokes about but it looks like that day may have arrived.

  5. Not a heavy comment, it made me smile that you thought you had to clarify the name of the comedian. It made me think that perhaps some people might have thought you meant David Cameron. :)

  6. I couldn't possibly comment Sea - but thanks for yours.

  7. Reading Richard's comment again the words 'if exposed' stood out. The list is probably endless of people who take advice from accountants and some of that advice will lead to big savings which some may see as obscene. It is subjective whether it is obscene. It is subjective where the line is drawn which cannot be crossed without making tax savings appear obscene. If an individual talks privately about his savings (which may or may not cross the self-imposed line) then there is a possibility of exposure.

    I can't believe that we are having a discussion about exposure or lines that need to be drawn subjectively or even Jimmy caving in. What we need to talk about is the Government's failings in removing tax loopholes and (the title of this blog entry) political individuals attacking law abiding citizens.