What’s the difference between Jimmy Carr and Gary Barlow?
Tax avoidance or tax evasion – however you like to refer to it – has been the aggravation as well as the butt of jokes for many people in the UK over the past few years. Many different celebrities have fallen foul and have been found out to be involved in various tax avoidance scheme’s that allow you to let’s face it, do what we would all like to do if we had the chance, legally pay less tax. Whether it is morally wrong or morally right to want to pay less tax really is a whole debate on its own but that’s not what I want to discuss here. Instead, what I’ve been pondering over is what the difference is between Jimmy Carr and Gary Barlow when it comes to these ‘legal’ tax avoidance schemes, because the way they have been treated and the public reaction to the news of their involvement in these kind of schemes has differed vastly between the two characters.
When it came out back in June of 2012 that Jimmy Carr had been storing his cash offshore in Jersey in an attempt to pay as little as 1% income tax he was absolutely castigated for it. Prominent public figures from all spectrums quickly checked their own tax arrangements and then when they were 100% sure that they couldn’t be caught out, came out in force to attack poor old Jimmy. He was even the butt of many a joke on his own TV show ‘8 out of 10 cats’ and basically he became the subject of the nation’s anger for a while until we found someone else to have a go at – Ex Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles springs to mind when he claimed to be a second hand car dealer in his spare time in order to pay less tax.
So why have things been so different with Gary Barlow this week after it came out that he and a few of the other Take That boys have been involved in similar tax schemes? There were brief calls for Gary to hand back his OBE but they seem to quickly have been swept aside and hush hushed, and we’re not talking small amounts here. I heard it suggested on the program ‘Question Time’ that Gary Barlow may have avoided paying a cool £20 million to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs which is an amount that I’m sure would have come in handy if it had happened to find its way into the public purse.
I can only assume that it is because of Gary’s work for charity (Namely Comic Relief and Sport relief), his likeable personality and the fact that every man and his dog is a sucker for a Take That song that his tax arrangements seem to have been allowed to be forgotten by the public and will probably soon be a distant memory in time for Take That’s next worldwide tour.
The names of many other celebrities involved in the scheme have also become public knowledge over the past few days including former Olympian Colin Jackson and I’m sure that they won’t be the last. In fact it wasn’t all that long ago that Gary Barlow was involved in another tax scandal along with the then host of the popular television show The Weakest Link Anne Robinson and about 2000 others which alleged to have helped some wealthy and well-known individuals avoid more than £1 billion in income tax over a four year period spanning from 2004-2008.
So which celebrities will we decide to take issue with and which will we let off the hook? Or are you one of those people who has become that sick of hearing about celebrities, big business owners and big businesses avoiding paying taxes that you have given up hope that anything will ever be done about it and have now just accepted it as a fact of life?
Why do you think people seem less bothered about Gary Barlow’s tax arrangements than they were with Jimmy Carr’s or Chris Moyles?