Appearing on 'Desert Island Discs', Carr reflected that the 2012 scandal could easily have ended his career.
Stand-up comedian Jimmy Carr has recalled the public furore over his tax affairs five years ago in a new interview, in which he admitted that the incident could have been a “career ender”.
The 44 year old presenter hit the headlines in June 2012 over his participation in the K2 tax avoidance scheme, which drew public attention for its ‘aggressive’ methods of minimising tax liability.
The then-prime minister David Cameron described it as “very dodgy” and “morally wrong”. Under pressure, Carr pulled out of the scheme, apologising at the time for a “terrible error of judgment”.
Jimmy Carr spoke about the 2012 furore over his tax affairs on 'Desert Island Discs'
“When you're in the middle of that [it's] like, 'could this be a career-ender?'” he told BBC Radio 4’s programme ‘Desert Island Discs’ at the weekend, looking back on the scandal. “I guess with something like that, that's the worst case scenario.”
He added: “Even worst case scenario, I've had a pretty good run in showbiz terms. I've been at the same level for probably 12 years now - that's very lucky to have a long, sustained career in showbiz. So it's going to disappear at some point.”
Carr was thought to be one of around 1,000 people who benefitted from sheltering a total of around £168 million per year from HMRC. David Cameron, who quit as PM in 2016, actually broke off from the G20 summit in Mexico City to comment upon the news item.
“If the prime minister breaks off from the G20 summit in Mexico - in a meeting with the 19 most important people in the world - and he comes out and makes a press statement about your tax affairs, that is going to need dealing with,” Carr continued.
“You've got to get out in front of it, and also you need to own it. Sometimes when footballers are involved in these things, people go: 'Well he probably didn't know what was going on and he got advice'. I don't think anybody was buying that line with me, I think people thought: 'He probably knew what he was doing'.”
But Carr said that he had no idea about the scale of the scheme, defending the rationale that led him to join up, saying that it was on the advice of a third party.
“If someone comes to you and says, 'Do you want to pay less tax? It's totally legal, you can do this thing, and if it ever comes up you just have to pay them' - you go, 'yeah, fine, great'. In the end you make good and say: 'Right I'll pay every penny of tax I ever owed.'”