Thursday, June 21, 2012

8 Out Of 10 Cats Pay Their Tax The Hard Way

Jimmy CarrIt is a measure of how much I detest the Tories when David Cameron's slating of the devil makes me instantly have sympathy with him.

Unless you've been living under a rock, on drugs or just in a different country for the last few days you can't fail to have heard or read about the big hoo-ha involving UK comedian, Jimmy Carr, and K2.

Yeah, that was my first thought too: he hasn't exactly got the physique of a mountaineer.

But it turns out K2 is some clever-clever, smarmy, rich man's tax dodge. I'm not sure of the ins and outs because whenever I read financial information all I hear in my head is farting noises but the basic premise seems to be that rich bastards pay their money into an account in Jersey and then the people running the account pay the money back out to them as "a loan". And because it is classed as a loan rather than a wage these mega-earners don't have to pay the statutory 50% tax rate on their stratospheric earnings.

All perfectly legal as Jimmy Carr and other K2 members have been desperate to point out.

So 'legally' the UK has missed out on something like £45bn per year on missed tax payments because of schemes like K2. Or £45mn. Or 45 drachma. One of those.

This is not funny when the likes of you and me are struggling to make ends meet and the government and tax office and the banks seem set on nobbling the poor, the middle wage earners and small business men in general.

K2 would be a great idea if we could all take advantage of it. The unfairness lies in the fact that it is a club that only the obscenely rich can join.

David Cameron (hardly short of a few bob himself) has condemned Jimmy Carr as "morally wrong".

Now up to that point I was bitterly disappointed with Jimmy Carr. I mean, how could he co-present such politically satirical programmes like 10 O'clock Live, lampooning the misdemeanours of others, when he himself was effectively ripping the entire country off?

But Cameron's condemnation just sticks in my craw worse than the whole K2 bunch. Are we to believe that Cameron knew nothing of this? That all our deeply respected politicians had no idea that such schemes existed and have done so for years and years? Are we to believe that they themselves have never partook of such perfectly legal tax dodging shenanigans?

It seems to me that Cameron's comdemnation comes only on the back of the recent media coverage. Up to then he was happy to have us all ignorant. Isn't that morally wrong too?

Jimmy Carr has today apologized for a "terrible error of judgement" over K2. He was asked by his financial advisor if he wanted to pay less tax without breaking the law. He said yes.

Well, bugger me, but who wouldn't?

The problem isn't Jimmy Carr or even K2 or it's directors (who are surely more morally repugnant than everybody?)... the problem is the long standing loophole in the law that allows such schemes to exist and to flourish. These schemes and loopholes are not new developments; they've been around for decades.

And whose fault is that?

The politicians and the bankers.

Frankie Boyle Tweeted this morning that if he'd been called "morally wrong" by Cameron he'd put it on his [tour] posters. I'd be tempted to put it on a T-shirt and wear it with pride.

Pot. Kettle. Black.

I wonder if my employer would care to loan me next month's wages rather than paying me...?

Trouble is, with my luck, they'd expect me to pay it back...

With interest.


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29 comments:

Hannah Denski said...

Nicely put moan. Totally agree! Unfortunately, it has always been the case – only the mortals like us, feel the strain in times like these… Politicians merely voicing over what we already know, to win our favour. x

Steve said...

Hannah: I wonder if only those rich enough to join K2 actually give a shit what Cameron says...?

the fly in the web said...

Hang on...can't you get the same deal as some civil servants who get their wages paid into a company they own to get a tax advantage...?
Why aren't the unions working on this for their members?

Steve said...

The fly in the web: hmm. So if I start up my own company and get my employer to pay my wages there I'll pay less tax? Bloggertropolis PLC here I come!

Nota Bene said...

I think Mr Carr may have been slightly misleading when he claimed that the conversation with his financial adviser was that simple. These schemes are pretty sophisticated, require a lot of explanation and provoke some fairly detailed questioning from anyone who's thinking of participating. So from where I sit, he remains in the dog house.

And Cameron's lot have been making a lot of noise about tax avoidance/evasion without actually making changes happen...but then given how they've continued to allow the banks to shaft us that's hardly surprising.

In the meantime, when the tax man comes chasing me I shall simply say that I have become involved in a tax avoidance scheme by avoiding picking up my pen to write them a cheque....

Steve said...

Nota Bene: I'm using the same tx avoidance scheme that Ken Dodd used - I'm stuffing my matress with £20 notes. Another couple of years and I might have enough for half a pillow.

Kelloggs Ville said...

It all makes you realise why we slog and slog and still end up turning the settee upside down on a lose change hunt whilst the rich eat cake. I would say if they weren't distracted by the football it's the sort of fuel that burns riots. (the irony being I'm sat here with a cup of tea and a slice of Soreen!)

Steve said...

Kelloggs Ville: do the rich eat cake or pasties? Or sausage rolls? I'm very confused on what is poor man's and rich man's food these days.

Gorilla Bananas said...

I suggest you take a course in the Income Tax code before pontificating about bleeding obvious loopholes. The scheme they devised sounds like an ingenious bit of financial skulduggery to me. We'll see what you do when you hit the Big Time. Until then, your whining is like the buzzing of a mosquito.

Steve said...

Gorilla Bananas: if I hit the big time, mate, there'll be a cage at Twycross Zoo with your name on it.

Owen said...

IMHO the bankers and all other parasites of their ilk should be flown up to the top of K2 and dropped off there, in their business suits in the middle of the Himalayan winter, and left to fend for themselves. Or would that be morally wrong ?

Steve said...

Owen: let's drop David Cameron off with them and then we can ask him. ;-)

Suburbia said...

My thoughts exactly...bloody politicians just make it possible to do such things by not closing the loopholes. It's all part of 'divide and rule' I reckon!

Steve said...

Suburbia: and there's far too much division going on with my wages at the moment...

Nana Go-Go said...

'If a rich man wants to help the poor, he should pay his taxes gladly, not dole out money at a whim.' - Clement Attlee said that.

John Gray said...

the worst thing Carr has done is to apologise!
not very "new wave comic"
not even a pithy line

Steve said...

Nana Go-Go: Clement Attlee was a wise old fish.

John: I know. I thought we paid him to be funny!

joebloggs said...

Again a symptom of a broken society when we look to get out of our civic responsibility at every opportunity and claim its ok because its a legal loophole. When we see the rich and (in)famous getting away with financial murder then that dodgy ipad down the pub for £50 doesn't seem so wrong now. Yet the police will kick your door in at 4 in the morning and haul you up the station for it....... so I am told!
When those in a financially favourable position are seen to help out the country by honestly paying what is legally AND morally due then we will see a change of attitude across society, until then if the wealthy few are seen to be getting away with it then every two bit scumbag will have an excuse when caught robbing old ladies handbags outside the post office on pension day!!!!!
(pppfffffft..deep breaths, deep breaths....ppppffffftt)

Steve said...

Joe: I salute you, sir, and all who sail in you. I wish you were our PM.

The bike shed said...

There's also an interesting difference between our attitude to individuals and corporates - frankly every big company does everything possible to avoid tax and not to do so would get the Finance Director the Sack. The Times newspaper is leading the campaign against tax avoidance schemes - what an irony; do we think that News International arranges it's finances to pay HM Customs and Revenue the absolute fair amount? Only a couple of years ago the big account firms were touting a scheme involving the purchase of foreign currency to reclaim against tax allowances - loads of companies did this, I suspect that many media companies ere amongst them.

Steve said...

The Bike Shed: and what better way to deflect scrutiny of your own activities by casting the glare onto somebody else...? I suspect Jimmy Carr is just the thin end of a rather large media wedge.

Being Me said...

Yeah. What all your intelligent commenters have already said.

Steve said...

Being Me: I'm just glad you're able to comment again. ;-)

Marginalia said...

K2 - more like the twin peaks of Kilimanjaro.

Steve said...

Marginalia: I will certainly never scale those heights.

Katriina said...

In my early days as a lawyer I worked on some real estate financing deals. These were big deals that involved an awful lot of money and many midnight conference calls with our learned colleagues in the Cayman Islands. I remember running into an old school friend back then. She had studied medicine and had decided to specialise in heart surgery. She described her first experience of being flown by helicopter to an accident scene to "harvest" a donor organ, then being flown back to the hospital with the precious cargo, where a surgical team was waiting, the recipient already on the operating table. She was saving lives on a daily basis. She asked me what I was doing. I replied that I helped people with lots of money make even more money. It took me years to actually make a career shift, but that was the first moment I knew it had to happen.

Steve said...

Katriina: all beautifully put into instant perspective.

Very Bored in Catalunya said...

I don't like Jimmy Carr, never have done, but the fact that Cameron chooses him to vilify instead of any number of his cronies (or a well known singer/songwriter who allegedly is part of the same scheme but a generous donator to the Conservative party), makes me sick.

All this coming at a time when they have decided that the under 25s don't need housing benefit.

Sick, sick, sick.

Steve said...

Very Bored in Catalunya: typical Tory double-standards. Totally sick. And not in the street sense.