George Osborne may have called tax avoiders “morally repugnant” in the budget, with his deputy Danny Alexander today describing them (£) as the “moral equivalent of benefit cheats”, but for their boss David Cameron, it seems he can’t get enough of the greedy chisellers.
The prime minister has said he will “roll out the red carpet” for French tax dodgers who seek to avoid President François Hollande’s proposed 75 per cent top rate of tax – to the irritation of leading French politicians.
France 24, in a post headlined “Britain ‘rolls out red carpet’ for French tax evaders”, cites French labour minister Michel Sapin as suggesting Cameron’s comment had “just spilled out without much forethought”, while Claude Bartelone, a senior figure in President Hollande’s Socialist Party, implied (£) the prime minister ‘must have been affected by the G20 festivities’.
Bartelone, who is running to become Speaker of the newly-elected French Parliament, added (£):
“I hope that it was an after-dinner remark and that he didn’t have all his wits about him when he said these things, because it’s just not the done thing.
“He can’t have had his wits about him because if he had, he would have paid more attention to all those Europeans who go to work in England but who come for medical treatment in France and who put their children in French schools because there are no more public services in England.”
• Osborne, Barclays, the Cayman Islands and tax avoidance 17 Apr 2012
Meanwhile, back home, there has been widespread criticism of the rich celebrities exposed as tax avoiders in this morning’s Times (£) – with Jimmy Carr bearing the brunt of the backlash, as Channel Four News reports:
Outraged fans and fellow comedians drew attention to Carr’s 10 O’Clock live sketch from February 2011 [see below] in which he plays a buxom blonde cashier promoting the “Barclays 1 per cent tax scam” to viewers:
Another comedian, John Robins, added to the criticism, and in response to someone who asked “why is everyone acting as though @JimmyCarr has killed a baby?!”, Robins said: “Because babies die in underfunded hospitals.”
As the #Carrtax hashtag took hold, other Twitterers took a more jovial attitude. “Any other comedian wishing they had a more imaginative accountant today?” asked Stephen Grant, while Andrew Bloch added: “Jimmy Carr keeps 8 out of 10 pounds twitpic.com/9xzm5d Maybe he should hide his jokes offshore #taxavoider.”
Carr and his fellow tax dodgers will have been more concerned by the news this afternoon that HMRC is to investigate the tax avoidance scheme used by him and more than a thousand wealthy Britons to pay as little as one per cent income tax. Let’s hope the taxman has the last laugh.