Carr joins fat cat tax avoidance scheme

If comedy is the new rock n’ roll, then Jimmy Carr has emerged as the new Bono. The comedian’s tax avoidance schemes have been exposed in The Times, conjuring up echoes of the U2 frontman’s convoluted arrangements to minimise his tax burden.

Carr is one of the best-paid comedians in the business, with substantial income from live tours supplemented by considerable earnings from comedy panel shows where his glib sound-bite one-liners are perfectly pitched for the editing suite. Not content with hauling in £3 million a year though, Carr has taken steps to ensure that as little as possible goes to the Exchequer.

The avoidance scheme, which one analyst suggested was used by about 1,000 people, involves the person becoming an "employee" for a shell company based in Jersey. Income is paid through the Jersey company, while the "employee" is paid a substantially lower salary, but loaned large sums, which can then be written down as tax liabilities. No, there isn’t a punchline . . .

Carr has been reviled by certain members of the comedy community in the past, for material that can be thoughtlessly offensive. Past controversies have focused on off-colour material about gypsies and wounded war veterans.

The latest revelations could make Carr a pariah on a comedy circuit that still clings to a few vestiges of the "alternative" values that were formed in the 80s. It doesn’t help that Carr has performed material in the past mocking the tax evasion tactics of the super-rich. Blatant hypocrisy is not particularly funny. Carr is unlikely to be appearing on Have I Got News For You any time soon.

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