If and when you wish to consider the morality of Jimmy Carr’s tax arrangements there are two things to bear in mind. Tax avoidance is not illegal, but tax avoidance on the scale he was conducting it was massively bastardly.
We’re not talking about an ISA for limited tax free savings, or a tax cut for an industry to help it grow, we’re talking about a man who was paying a 1% effective rate of income tax when people on the minimum wage pay 20%.
Don’t think of it as government theft, think of it as a Childrens Hospital buying Jimmy Carr a new Sports Car or a family in poverty paying for Mr Carrs weekly food shop.
Mr Carrs avoidance is all the more loathsome because of his trade, his jokes poke fun at tax dodging banks, expenses scoffing Politicians and the generally deviant. Its not just the scale of his tax avoidance, its the hypocrisy of making money on the back of mocking the practice.
I’m not one to lecture on Morals, one person’s immorality is another person’s way of life and as long as you do no harm I don’t have an issue with what you do, which is why I’m inclined to agree with Ed Miliband when he says “I don’t think it is for politicians to lecture people about morality”
Unfortunately Miliband is your typical bandwagon, sound bite politician. Today he has a go at Cameron for raising the issue of morality, Last August he was making a speech accusing Bankers, MPs, Rioting Youth and Newspaper Journalists of being greedy, selfish, and immoral. and concludes that “the values crisis is not confined to a so-called underclass”
Politics isn’t just about shuffling laws about, its about values and defining what’s right and wrong, as I alluded to above, I judge my morals on the basis that you should only constrain a persons liberty, or right to do something where it causes harm to others without them wishing it, and you should not be a hypocrite.
In his ‘National Conversation Speech Mr Miliband lectures at length about right and wrong and morality. He should perhaps examine himself to expand on the notion that a lack of consistency is a vice and picking where and when to lecture on morality is a sin.
No one is perfect, we all get things wrong from time to time, but most of us don’t go about saying one thing one minute and another thing the next.
So no, being out to get as much as you can is not, necessarily illegal, but the values that lead you to that objective are, to an extent, of questionable morality.
Tax avoidance is part and parcel of that. Its the same entitlement culture that leads bankers and Loan Sharks like Wonga to charge extortionate interest rates, MPs to maximise their expenses and Journalists and he Police to have too cozy a relationship.
Are those things illegal? No. Are they right? Probably not. Should politicians change the rules? Absolutely.