News In Depth
Carr admits 'error' over taxes
David Cameron has defended wading into the row over Jimmy Carr's tax affairs after the comedian admitted he had made a "terrible error of judgment".
But the Prime Minister declined to criticise Take That singer Gary Barlow, who has also been accused of using a complex scheme to avoid paying millions of pounds to HM Revenue & Customs.
Carr bowed to pressure by releasing a statement apologising for his actions.
"I appreciate as a comedian, people will expect me to 'make light' of this situation, but I'm not going to in this statement as this is obviously a serious matter," he said.
"I met with a financial adviser and he said to me 'Do you want to pay less tax? It's totally legal'. I said 'Yes'.
"I now realise I've made a terrible error of judgment.
"Although I've been advised the K2 Tax scheme is entirely legal, and has been fully disclosed to HMRC, I'm no longer involved in it and will in future conduct my financial affairs much more responsibly.
"Apologies to everyone."
Speaking to ITV News during a visit to Mexico, Mr Cameron joined a chorus of criticism of the comedian, whose tax arrangements were disclosed in The Times on Tuesday.
Describing them as "straightforward tax avoidance", the PM said it was unfair on the people who pay to watch the comic perform that he is not paying his taxes in the same way that they do.
He said: "I think some of these schemes - and I think particularly of the Jimmy Carr scheme - I have had time to read about and I just think this is completely wrong."
It has been alleged that Take That stars Barlow, Howard Donald and Mark Owen, and the band's manager Jonathan Wild, invested at least £26 million in a scheme run by Icebreaker Management Services - which says it works within the law.
But Mr Cameron refused to criticise Barlow, who recently received an OBE.
"I am not going to give a running commentary on different people's tax affairs. I don't think that would be right," the premier said at a press conference in Downing Street.
"I made an exception yesterday because it was a very specific case where the details seemed to have been published and it was a particularly egregious example of an avoidance scheme that seemed to me to be wrong and I made that point."
Mr Cameron said the "rules of the road" on tax were clear.
"In terms of people's tax affairs, as I said yesterday, of course people can plan their tax affairs, put money into their pension and that can have an effect on your tax bill and the rest of it. That is sensible and reasonable. But as the Chancellor of the Exchequer said, some of these aggressive anti-avoidance schemes that may not be illegal are morally questionable.
"I think it is right not only for politicians to make that point but frankly to go after some of the aggressive avoidance schemes.
"It isn't right at a time of economic difficulty to have these very aggressive anti-avoidance schemes in existence."
But shadow leader of the house Angela Eagle questioned Mr Cameron's decision to speak out about Carr's tax arrangements while remaining silent about those of other high profile figures.
She said: "Oddly, (Mr Cameron) did not take the opportunity to condemn as morally repugnant the tax avoidance scheme used by Conservative supporter Gary Barlow, who has given a whole new meaning to the phrase Take That.
"If he is also morally repugnant, why has he been given an OBE in the Birthday Honours?
"Why is the Prime Minister's view of what's dodgy in the tax system so partial? Sir Philip Green has interesting tax arrangements but far from being labelled morally repugnant in a Mexico TV studio, he has got a Government review to head up."
Carr is filming an episode of the Channel 4 panel show 8 out of 10 Cats tonight and said it was "business as usual", but admitted he expected to be targeted by his fellow panellists over the scandal.
He tweeted: "I've dished it out enough times let's see if I can take it."
what do you think?
..I AM TAXED ON MY PENSION, IS THAT RIGHT, THINK ABOUT IT !!
Yes it is right. There's a Caps Lock button on your keyboard. Think about it.
..JIMMY CARR DID EXACTLY THE RIGHT JUDGEMENT.......
He is just doing what the rich do ,only he has been told to stop by the biggest con man of them all namely Cameron.him and his cronies have got more scams than ayone else but they do not stop ruining the country..
The man did nothging illegal and his schemes to avoid paying tax are nothing less than anyone else would do given the opportunity. Cameron should keep his trap firmly shut unless he is prepared to criticise all the rest of them using schemes to avoid paying tax including his mates. The Labour spokesthing is absolutely right.
Do you think Lord Faulkner, Berni Eccleston, Alan sugar etc. etc. all labour supporters are any better, all politician are hypocrits
Michael. Please don't get me started about the Labour freeloaders like Mr Bliar etc. Those you mentioned come under the term "the rest of them"
So far as I am aware, everyone who has any money whatsoever and can afford to see a professional accountant of any form does so in order to find ways to pay less tax. Also, so far as I am aware, the tax systems of every country tend to be very, very complicated and the laws governing them are changing virtually every day thus leading to legal documents covering such things being updated all the time. What can possibly be wrong with being rich, going to an accountant and finding ways to pay less tax? ... The rules change so often, mistakes are likely to be made by everyone concerned, I would imagine.
finding ways to limit tax is fine. having an offshore company pay you only minimal wage plus an untaxable 'loan' you never have to repay is not morally correct. i can say this - i do it.
Why not just go the whole hog and leave the country? I mean you evidently don;t like it here if you're not willing to contribute to it's financial wellbeing. I'll even buy you a ticket if you want....
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Nothing wrong with what Carr has done, he hasnt broken the law and Cameron only said something because he hadnt thought of doing it himself, green eyed monster appears I think. Maybe the government should do something about the amount of tax we pay, simple answer would be lower our taxes and immigrants coming into the country should pay a much higher rate, I wonder how many would stay or leave to find another mug of a country to let them in.
Windows Live User
Ahh, good idea. I wonder what our taxes would be if all these scheme individuals stumped up as well as our top companies?
These guys are just tip of the iceberg, all the rich people are at it!
Dave has made a huge faux pas here. What a buffoon for targeting someone and naming him and then saying he isn't going to do this! To be honest, if I was offered a legal way of reducing tax from 42 stinking % then I'd go for it too! I suspect many of us would!
Windows Live User
Maybe we all should join a scheme such as this. A lot of business' do it already as well as a lot of individuals Wonder were the chancellor would get the money to run the UK if we did?
Jimmy Carr you have nothing to be sorry for using a genuinely legal tax scheme. How about the multitude of politicians fraudulently claiming untold expenses? All thats gone a bit quiet lately. You and Gary Barlow are being used by the media and Angela Eagles. She has nothing constructive to do or say for her labour voters and she is using you to get in the headlines.
Legal it may be, but it's hardly moral. In Carr's case it's hypocritical considering his sketch about large corporations using loopholes to pay minimal corporation taxes. But yeah, he has been singled out and the fact that Cameron failed to comment on Lord Ashcrofts tax returns is equally hypocritcal.
What about the BECKHAMS earn money in UK spend it in USA.Earn money in USA dont spend in UK.