Jimmy Carr has defended his tax affairs saying: ‘I pay what I have to and not a penny more.’
The comic had remained silent on the issue of his offshore tax avoidance scheme, but was confronted with the issue by his audience at Tunbridge Wells last night.
Heckled by a cry of: ‘You don’t pay tax’, Carr replied: ‘I pay what I have to and not a penny more.’
He added: ‘I’ve not broken the law, I’ve not done anything illegal, but morally, morally...’ he trailed off
He then said: ‘Whose fucking moral compass am I? When the Murdochs are questioning your morality, you know you’re in trouble.’
The Murdoch-owned Times yesterday alleged his use of the controversial K2 scheme meant he could be paying as little as one per cent tax on his £3million-a-year earnings. The paper said that exposed his hypocrisy, as he had previously lambasted Barclays for using similar loopholes in a 10 O’Clock Live sketch.
At the end of last night’s show, Carr told the audience: ‘I know I’ve been in the papers today. Thank you very much for coming here tonight. Thanks for being so supportive. I genuinely appreciate it.’
Carr avoided Twitter yesterday and his agent did not respond to e-mails. Although his lawyers confirmed his membership of the K2 scheme, which they said was entirely legal.
But Government ministers branded the scheme – used by more than 1,000 British residents – ‘morally repugnant’, and Revenue & Customs said that it would take steps to close it down.
Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, told Sky News: ‘People who dodge the tax system are the moral equivalent of benefit cheats and we are coming to get them. We are taking steps to ensure that everyone pays their fair share.’
Under the scheme, Carr’s earnings from TV appearances, stand-up tours and DVD sales are funnelled into a Jersey-based company that then ‘lends’ him the money back, tax-free. Otherwise he is said to draw a £100,000-a-year salary, on which he is taxed. Carr also bought his multi-million pound house through a company; while a previous tax avoidance scheme he deployed was also closed down by the taxman.
Frankie Boyle – who shares Carr’s agent – tweeted yesterday: ‘It’s OK to avoid tax providing every time you do a joke about a town being s**t you add ‘Partly down to me I’m afraid’ under your breath.’