A Taxing Time

Comedian Jimmy Carr has been in the news this week, due not so much to revelations that he benefited from a tax loophole that saw him pay 1% tax on earnings reported as 3 million a year; but more due to Prime Minister David Cameron targeting him, and him alone, for comment, saying his tax arrangements were “morally wrong”.

Now, I’m not defending Carr’s tax arrangements, but I feel it inappropriate for him to be singled out in this way by the leader of the government. I might be more in agreement with this, if the morally righteous Cameron hadn’t himself inherited a fortune made on off-shore savings, and if he had thought to comment on others who might deserve it a little more, such as businessman and government advisor Philip Green, whose own tax arrangements have saved him in excess of 250 million of personal and corporate tax.

Carr’s original response was to say “I pay what I have to and not a penny more”. However, very soon after, he publicly apologised for his “error of judgement”, and said he had withdrawn from the apparently legal tax scheme.

Anyway, a few days later, the panel show “8 out of 10 cats”, which Carr hosts, aired. As a topical quiz, he was sure to get stick, and on asking the first round question – “What were the top five headlines this week?” – you could see he was expecting it.

And he got it, but took it very well, and made no attempt to divert it. Because of the incident, what is normally a 30 minute programmed aired for 50 minutes, with almost half of it being aimed at him.

Aside from the amusement factor, it was fairly remarkable in that Carr made no excuses, nor did he blame anyone but himself. He responses can more or less be summed up as (not an exact quote) ‘I didn’t think it through and I was stupid, it’s all my fault.’

That’s actually a darned sight more honest than any response I have ever heard from a politician, under similar circumstances.

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