Why I feel sorry for Jimmy Carr
It was discovered that Carr put the money into the K2 Tax Scheme based in Jersey, as one of 1,000 investors. The scheme helps investors avoid income tax by transferring their salaries into the offshore trust, which then lends investors back the money.
Following intense public interest and even a telling off from prime minister David Cameron, which branded the use of the scheme 'morally wrong', Carr apologised and withdrew his money from the scheme.
It all seems a bit much really, bearing in mind that the scheme is completely legal.
Yes, Carr made a few jokes about Barclays' tax arrangement on his chat show and he's got a bit of egg on his face now but was the public witch hunt really necessary?
Everyone in Britain is entitled to try and pay as little tax as possible, that isn't illegal although it may be annoying as only the wealthy can afford to pay less tax while the rest of the population slogs it out on the PAYE system.
Carr is one of 1,000 people using this tax shelter so surely the question we should be asking is not what is Jimmy Carr doing using this scheme but why do we have a tax system that allows people, not just Carr, to get away with this type of avoidance.
Cameron can deem it 'morally wrong' all he likes but he is forgetting that it is his government that is allowing the creation and use of these schemes. If the scheme is 'very dodgy' as the prime minster says, then why are UK residents still allowed to continue using it?
He is also forgetting that his father used a network of offshore investment funds to house the family fortune, as reported by the Guardian. I don't see Cameron's father jumping to pay his dues to HM Revenue & Customs.
If Cameron really wants to be seen as one of the people, don't go after one rich comedian, go after the corporations that negotiate down tax bills and use tax havens to swindle the UK out of taxes.
In wading into this debate, Cameron, not Carr, has become the one with egg on his face.