Friday, 22 June 2012

Life Is Always Taxing


I don't find Jimmy Carr's version of humour in the least amusing but perhaps that's because I'm of a generation with fond memories of Les Dawson and Morcambe and Wise.

Mr Carr's finances permit him to employ those who specialise in tax avoidance.  Few of us can afford such luxuries and Mr Carr's form of avoidance is not available to those who earn through the PAYE system.

Out taxation system is exceptionally complicated and when laws are excessive there are always loopholes, mainly because over time, one law begins to contradict another. HMRC are well aware of loopholes - they have officers delegated specifically to the issue - but they stand little chance of closing  loopholes because of the lengthy bureaucratic system involved.

I've no problem with anyone managing, legally, to pay less tax - who wouldn't want to do so? What I do have a problem with is Mr Carr's hypocrisy. He's a man who earns his living deriding those who avoid paying standard tax rates yet he is - or was until yesterday - part of that group.

As for his declaration that he has 'made a terrible error of judgement' it smacks of nothing more than a desperate attempt to save his career.

David Cameron's comment about Mr Carr's use of a legal tax avoidance scheme as being 'morally wrong' held a distinct whiff of irony.  Governments legislate on national tax matters but it doesn't suit politicians to push for a fairer, simplified system which would ensure equality for all.  Why would they upset their wealthy friends?

For once Ed Miliband expressed some common sense: "I'm not in favour of tax avoidance obviously, but I don't think it is for politicians to lecture people about morality."

Life is always taxing and in more ways than one as Mr Carr has found out. He obviously doesn't have the same connections as Gary Barlow and Philip Green - both men who have 'interesting' tax arrangements.

27 comments:

JRB said...

Undoubtedly I have become an old cynic…

for I find it hard to believe that Mr Carr has had a Damascene conversion over his attitude towards taxation; rather, I would imagine there were cries of “Oh buggar” as he realised his tax arrangements had become public.

But this issue does throw up one interesting question – who do we turn too for moral guidance?

Should it be our politicians? Mr Milliband does not think so. Their moral values have been well exposed as they still try to deal with the problems of expenses and funding.

Should it be the church? Its wee small voice on moral issues can hardly be heard over the internal clamour over child abuse, women clergy, gay rights etc etc.

Should it be the press? Even I accept that that is a stupid idea.

So who should provide the nation with its moral compass?

Joe Public said...

If politicians & civil servants can't write water-tight tax legislation, they're the ones to blame.

subrosa said...

Sadly the church has given up I think JRB. It used to be there for all but now it seems to be confined to the few who regularly worship on a Sunday - if their church is open that is. Let's not forget Christianity has been removed from schools except, I believe, Catholic and certain other religious denomination schools.

subrosa said...

Indeed they are Joe. I've no problem with anyone finding a legal way to avoid paying tax, I just think the playing field ought to be equalised.

Brian said...

If the super rich deigned to pay the PAYE rates of tax on their income they, and the rest of us, probably wouldn't have to pay as much income tax. It's those who aren't eligible for tax credits and who can't benefit from tax wheezes that subsidise both ends of the workforce.

Dioclese said...

I notice tha Cameron declined to comment on Philip Green. Is that because he's a Conservative Party donor?

Richard T said...

I don't put Jimmy Carr in the same category as the business moguls who bemoan things like the quality of education or who demand a third runway at Heathrow. He's a smart arse comedian who got caught out and serves him right; he sits with the showbiz stars who live abroad but ken best what's good for us without wishing to pay - yes you Sean Connery, Bono and Bob Geldof. The businessmen just make me sick; they won't pay for what they insist we need as a country (both the UK and Scotland). Time we closed the tax havens down and pursued these cheats out of their tax dodging loopholes.

Mike Philbin said...

TAX is a scam - you just need to know how to play it.

:)

Disenfranchised of Buckingham said...

What's the problem? Politicians created a scheme to help the film industry by offering reduced taxes.

So people use the scheme to reduce taxes and they are morally wrong? Surely the politicians are morally wrong for offering the tax incentives in the first place. What has the film industry, arts etc got to do with them???

tris said...

Surely JRB, we create our own "moral compass", although I hate the phrase, which I associate with a man who used morality as a political tool, but lacked a great deal of what I would have described as moral rectitude.

I dislike most politicians, and always consider them to be my servants, not my masters. I consider the church to be a laughable bunch of hypocritical money making perverts stuck in another century.

The law is corrupt and the people who administer it are a mixture of inefficient and bent and the press are a nest of vipers.

Many "ordinary" people, or individuals as I prefer to call them, make their own moral rules, based on whatever there upbringing was, together with the influences that life has had on them.

As for the Carr situation; it seems that as Mr Carr is a "comedian" who mocks Cameron and his government for a living, Mr C decided to comment (Wisteria notwithstanding) on his morality, but actually declined to comment on Gary Barlow, who did exactly the same thing, but is a Tory supported.

His last 1% of credibility disappeared in that moment.

He really is despicable. If he thinks it's morally repugnant for anyone except Tory voters to indulge in tax avoidance, he should make it illegal for anyone who does not carry a Tory membership card to do so.

Simple.

Demetrius said...

No mention of "The Dustbin Men"? Ah well, but no tax therefore no spending. No tax and no spending then no government. The problem is squaring the circle. If the weathiest get out of paying you could then ghave a revolution on your hands. Allons enfants de la Patrie and all that.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

Nobody likes paying tax in any form, it flies in the face of human nature.
Especially so, when the use the taxes are put to are seen as abhorrent or abused by those who administer their distribution to suit unacceptable political ends.

That said any earnings or capital gains should be paid at the rates set by the country in which they're earned and accounted for before the residual capital is allowed to leave the country.

Edward Spalton said...

Don't let's forget that fellow Robinson, the Paymaster general who subbed Mandy for his flat. He had been sales manager for Jaguar at a time when they were (a) in great demand and (b) underpriced abroad so that continental dealers could command substantial extra prices above list - provided they had cars to sell.

By pure coincidence, one of the dealers, a Madame Bourgeois if I recall correctly, set up a charitable fund for Robinson in the Channel Islands - all perfectly legal and tax free. So Robinson was rolling in it and still is.

Having run my business by the book, I was infuriated with the Inland Revenue. After an inspection for PAYE they said we owed another £500. I was damned sure we didn't but our accountant told me it would cost far more than £500 to fight it (which we would not get back, even if we won), so I paid up. I am sure the inspectors were going for soft targets where they would score Brownie points. It was a rip off pure and simple -demanding money with menaces.

Yet I now have reliable "information received" which suggests that large amounts are remaining uncollected because of lack of qualified staff able to deal with the big boys.

Jo G said...

Jimmy Carr has said he made a terrible mistake. I suspect the mistake he means is the one which revealed to the rest of us the fact that he was paying 1% in tax. I think he's worried people will boycott his shows. I hope they do.

Jo G said...

(I don't think he's that funny anyway personally.)

subrosa said...

Now that would be a fairer system Brian and much simpler. It's politicians making self-serving laws which has brought it to this.

subrosa said...

Surely not Dioclese? ;)

subrosa said...

Didn't Gordon Brown say he'd close down tax havens Richard?

subrosa said...

Very true Mike and be able to afford to play it too.

subrosa said...

They've also introduced schemes to help more of their pals DoB.

subrosa said...

Tris our morals are handed down from our ancestors and most of ours would have accepted the Christian values. We can't create values without having something to equate to.

subrosa said...

I think we're too brainwashed to have a revolution now Demetrius. We're a police state too.

subrosa said...

Good point Crinkly.

subrosa said...

That's the problem many small businesses have with the IR Edward. They're 'easy meat' for the officials.

subrosa said...

Exactly Jo! I can't stand his style of humour - if you can call it that.

Brian said...

Rosie,

Beaker reads your blog, it would seem.

subrosa said...

Brian, it's not often I'm ahead of the game. :)

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