Carr: Tax Avoidance Was Terrible Error

Comedian Jimmy Carr has issued a statement apologising for his "terrible error of judgement" in using a tax avoidance scheme.

Earlier this week, it emerged Carr had been using an aggressive, legal scheme which enables members to pay income tax rates as low as 1%.

The comic, who has famously lampooned fat cat bankers, was reportedly protecting some £3.3m a year by channelling cash through Jersey-based company K2.

But, in the statement, Carr said he was "no longer involved" in the scheme and added that he "will in future conduct my financial affairs much more responsibly".

He said: "I appreciate as a comedian, people will expect me to 'make light' of this situation, but I'm not going to in this statement as this is obviously a serious matter.

"I met with a financial advisor and he said to me, 'Do you want to pay less tax? It's totally legal.'

"I said, 'Yes.'

"I now realise I've made a terrible error of judgement. Apologies to everyone."

He spoke out after Prime Minister David Cameron branded his tax dodging "morally wrong".

Mr Cameron, speaking on Wednesday night during a visit to Mexico, joined a chorus of criticism of the comedian, whose tax arrangements were revealed in The Times on Tuesday.

Describing them as "straightforward tax avoidance", the PM said it was unfair on the people who pay to watch the comic perform that he is not paying his taxes in the same way they do.

Mr Cameron said: "I think some of these schemes - and I think particularly of the Jimmy Carr scheme - I have had time to read about and I just think this is completely wrong.

"People work hard, they pay their taxes, they save up to go to one of his shows. They buy the tickets. He is taking the money from those tickets and he, as far as I can see, is putting all of that into some very dodgy tax avoiding schemes.

"That is wrong. There is nothing wrong with people planning their tax affairs to invest in their pension and plan for their retirement - that sort of tax management is fine.

"But some of these schemes we have seen are quite frankly morally wrong."

Carr is said to be one of more than 1,000 beneficiaries who shelter some £168m from the taxman each year using K2. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said the K2 scheme was already under investigation.

It has also been alleged Gary Barlow, Howard Donald, Mark Owen and Take That manager Jonathan Wild had invested at least £26m in a scheme run by Icebreaker Management Services.

Meanwhile, Downing Street has indicated Mr Cameron and senior ministers are not planning to disclose their tax returns in the "very near future".

The Prime Minister said in April he expected information about his finances to become public, and was relaxed about the prospect.

But a Number 10 aide said that the proposal is still being "looked into".