Throw eggs at hypocritical politicians who attack law-abiding Jimmy Carr

Mad inventor John Ward is building a catapult

(This was also published in the Huffington Post)

What’s all this bullshit over comedian Jimmy Carr paying 1% tax on his millions by exploiting a perfectly legal tax loophole?

If the government has passed laws which have loopholes which the Prime Minister considers “morally repugnant”, then the government should close the loopholes, not try to appear to be morally superior by criticising people who are acting perfectly legally.

British-based American comedian Lewis Schaffer said to me when this Jimmy Carr story first blew up: “What’s the big deal? In America, it’s not an option – it’s seen as a patriotic duty to pay as little tax as possible.”

Bloody right.

If Jimmy Carr is given the option by Parliamentary law to pay either 1% tax or 40% tax, why is it morally repugnant of him to pay 1%?

It is not morally repugnant; it is common sense to do it.

It would be financially and intellectually stupid of him to pay anything more than 1%.

If the politicians do not like it, then they should change the law.

The Labour-leaning Daily Mirror newspaper today says that “against a backdrop of cuts that threaten jobs and livelihoods, struggling Britons will agree with David Cameron that Jimmy Carr’s tax avoidance was morally wrong.”

I suspect this is utter bollocks. Where are these Britons who want to give money to the Inland Revenue and who think anyone should pay 39% more tax than they actually have to?

The Mirror is on stronger ground when it says: “Hard-up families being stripped of their child benefit will be furious that Mr Cameron’s rich pals are allowed to get away with paying just one per cent tax,” especially as “his stockbroker dad Ian used tax havens in Panama City and Geneva to build up the family fortune,” and that “the PM appointed billionaire Sir Philip Green as a Government adviser despite complicated tax arrangements which mean his High Street retail empire is owned by his Monaco-based wife.”

I am sure the Labour Party front bench is equally hypocritical and I would be interested to see how much tax the owners of Mirror Group Newspapers are paying.

Are they sending letters to the Inland Revenue saying: “I notice that I legally only have to pay 5% tax, but I would like to donate another 35% to the nation in these hard times”?

Perhaps, to be morally responsible, while Britain is in a recession caused by highly-paid bankers with good accountants, Westminster politicians – who are paid above the average wage – should donate to the Inland Revenue the difference between their salaries and the average salary of the average Briton.

I somehow suspect they would see this as unfair and unnecessary.

But they should put up or shut up.

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

Meanwhile, in more important news, my chum mad inventor John Ward is building a giant catapult for Sunday’s World Egg Throwing Championships in Lincolnshire.

Now THAT is important news.

I know whom I would like to see as the primary target for the eggs.

And it ain’t the perfectly law-abiding Jimmy Carr.


Filed under Comedy, Politics

2 responses to “Throw eggs at hypocritical politicians who attack law-abiding Jimmy Carr

  1. I agree that Jimmy Carr hasn’t done anything wrong, morally or otherwise, and should not be castigated for keeping within the law. It was outrageous that the Prime Minister should choose one person to name in this way.

    As with any tax system, there are a myriad of allowances, incentives, penalties and pitfalls. HMRC are now a single unified body, and have responsibility for overseeing the lot, but still largely rely on companies and individuals declaring their earnings each year. If a person has an employer and no other income, they don’t even have to think about it, as all tax is taken at source. As soon as anyone has any other income, holds a directorship or owns shares, they need to declare it all each year. Whilst there are penalties for non-compliance, this is mainly based on trust. We know that HMRC can choose to look closely at any one of us, at any time, so most people daren’t tell porkies. That still, however, leaves plenty of room for manoeuvering by eagle eyed accountants. Nothing illegal; just taking advantage of the system.

    When the general public think about wealthy people, it’s usually those in the public eye, who have made their money quickly. This includes entertainers, sports stars, and high profile businessmen and women. The public are reminded regularly that even though Wayne earns £10m per annum, he is paying at least £5m of that back in tax. He’s a working class lad, from a poor background, who has done very well for himself. With notable exceptions, the rise of the super-rich stand-up comedian is fairly recent. Long before stadium tours, Billy Connolly was selling immense volumes of albums, videos and then DVD’s. He was at the very forefront of this in the UK. At a concert Billy once joked “Don’t feel sorry for me. I’m fucking loaded!”, and got great laughs. People felt good that he was doing so well, partly because they could see the direct connection between their ticket price and his good fortune. By the same token, anyone who accepts cash from the public, has to accept that there is a responsibility that goes with it. You cannot be seen to disparage those who put you there (ask Gerald Ratner or Freddy Shepherd).

    In the specific instance of Jimmy Carr, as well as the laughs, the public will have expected him to keep his feet on the ground, and behave like he was still one of us (which of course he isn’t). We want to believe that he is compelled to abide by the same rules as the rest of us, even though he is the personification of a multi-million pound business operation. So when his tax affairs were revealed, it is inevitable that many people feel like they’ve been conned; that he’s been taking the piss. “He’s been pretending to be one of us, whilst all the time he’s been picking our pockets!”

    As I say, I personally do not find fault with Jimmy Carr, but with the system which has allowed it. Such has been the deviousness of accountants over the years, that in the budget earlier this year was a measure, which could go a long way to helping. This measure gives HMRC to decide that any scheme, which has the effect of greatly reducing a person’s tax bill is evasion of tax. Regardless of the reasons given, all income is treated as taxable, and the responsibility falls to the individual (or their accountant) to prove that it isn’t.

    As a result of this, the public must assume that anyone earning more than £200k per annum is using these same methods to avoid tax. This will create a dangerous divide, similar to that created with politicians and journalists, as a result of their hugely embarrassing misdeeds. If we want to avoid this “Them and Us” scenario, and politicians, journalists, celebrities and even stand-up comics want to be seen as men (and women) of the people, then they need to start behaving like it.

    With regards to tax loop holes, as Chris Rock might say “Yeah, you can do it without a man, but it don’t mean it’s to be done! Shit!”

  2. PS. Does being a hypocrite necessarily make a person wrong?

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