Prime Minister David Cameron told ITV News the tax arrangements of comedian Jimmy Carr were "morally wrong" and he said the government would crack down on "these very dodgy schemes" used by high earners to deprive the public purse of an estimated £4.5 billion per year.
The comments come after a Times (£) investigation identified him as one of many celebrities using an offshore account to avoid paying tax. Jimmy Carr addressed the issue last night saying during a gig and reminded his audience his actions were perfectly legal:
I pay what I have to and not a penny more.
Prime Minister Cameron criticised the comedian for taking part in a "very dodgy tax-avoiding scheme". The Prime Minister told ITV News:
Some of these schemes [...] I just think this is completely wrong. People work hard, they pay their taxes, they save up to go to one of his shows, right, they buy the tickets, he is taking the money from one of those tickets and putting it into some very dodgy tax avoiding scheme
There had been claims yesterday that the comedian used an offshore account so that he only paid around 1% tax.
According to the Daily Mail, Carr reportedly puts away £3.3million a year via the K2 tax scheme to shelter some £168 million.
Three members of Take That have also had their tax arrangements questioned by The Times.
They are investors in a company called Icebreaker Management Services, considered by HMRC as a tax avoidance scheme. Investors in the company, according to The Times, include:
- Gary Barlow
- Howard Donald
- Mark Owen
- Take That manager Jonathan Wild
- Former England manager Terry Venables
- Olympic silver medallist Colin Jackson
Liberal Democract MP Simon Hughes told ITV News it was "completely unacceptable" but very common for high earning comedians and singers to avoid paying the correct rate of tax.
He also said if the allegations against Gary Barlow are true he should be stripped of his OBE, as honours are "supposed to be for good citizens, if you don't pay taxes you are not a full citizen".
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said earlier that the Government was determined to clamp down on tax-avoiders. He said:
The message goes out loud and clear, whether you're a celebrity, whether you're a big businessman if you're trying to avoid your tax, we're coming to get you.
Labour leader, Ed Miliband, added that a change of law was needed, as many of the schemed labelled "very dodgy" by the Prime Minister are in fact perfectly legal.