Jimmy Carr for those that don’t know is very successful and talented British comedian, he appears regularly on British TV and radio, his tours fill very large theatre venues and he sells hundreds of thousands of DVDs in the United Kingdom.
Mr Carr has found his tax affairs the subject of much media speculation, it appears that he has been using a perfectly legal but somewhat morally questionable tax avoidance scheme which involves his earnings being transferred to Jersey, one of the Channel Islands and outside of United Kingdom tax legislation and then returned to him in the form of a loan, because Mr Carr’s income comes in the form of a loan it is not subject to UK income taxation and he therefore avoids paying tax.
I’m not going to defend Mr Carr, I find these kind of arrangements absolutely morally wrong, however Mr Carr is entitled to do what he can to reduce his tax liability within the law, moreover this scheme was probably devised for him by an accountant and Mr Carr may not have had any knowledge of the how scheme works or even how much tax he was saving. He is after all a comedian and not tax accountant or business manager, Mr Carr is incredibly successful and one would presume that he has someone who deals with these things for him.
My real problem with this is the reaction of British Prime Minister David Cameron, in an interview with the UK’s Channel 4 News David Cameron described these schemes as “Morally Wrong” and yet has done absolutely nothing to close the loopholes in UK taxation legislation which allow these tax avoidance schemes to operate. David Cameron is in control of British parliamentary process if he feels so strongly about this then surely he can move to make these schemes illegal. David Cameron singled out in Mr Carr a single UK taxpayer and yet didn’t mention his many supporters in business and finance that use schemes similar to this in order to avoid tax. His moral outrage is absolutely disingenuous, he knew very well that these schemes existed and that many of his donors use them and has chosen to do nothing at all about this except criticise a comedian that doesn’t support his government.
What does this have to do with Mitt Romney?
Mitt Romney is the first US Presidential candidate that has refused to publish his tax records, by his own admission he has paid a lower marginal rate of taxation that the average middle class American. It is absolutely essential that the US electorate know what measures for tax avoidance a presidential candidate has taken, if Mr Romney has taken measures to off-shore his wealth in order to avoid US taxation or used similar schemes to the one used by Jimmy Carr then that is something the electorate need to be aware of.
Mitt Romney has made great play of his financial success in business, claiming this to be a qualification for the office of President Of The United States, so why shouldn’t his tax records be the subject of public scrutiny? And why shouldn’t he answer questions about his business career at Bain Capital? Mitt Romney has something of a track record on avoiding difficult questions, during the Republican primaries he made great statements of his Mormon faith and now he is the candidate for the party he is refusing to answer any questions about his faith. If Mitt Romney wants to be taken seriously as a candidate then he must be open to scrutiny especially when it comes to the things he declares as his qualifications for the office.