When you use the term ‘daylight robbery’ you are invoking a 17th-century British tax and a tax avoidance scheme still visible in many parts of Britain. In 1697, Parliament introduced a tax on windows. Householders would henceforth pay a tax proportional to the number of windows they owned. Middle-class and wealthy homeowners simply boarded up some, and in a few cases all, of their windows to avoid paying what they owed.

These buildings belonged to the Jimmy Carrs of their day, as Ben Macintyre explains.

Times Opinion today | amoral Jimmy Carr, damp e-books, dress codes & the firecrest

Jimmy Carr

He’s amoral, not immoral, says Janice Turner. And we just don’t like it when comedians turn out to be not very like us at all

Giles Coren went for dinner with him on Monday. So he can’t write about him. It’s e-books instead – they’re not waterproof, apparently

Wildlife

Simon Barnes, award-winning sports writer and birdwatcher, is on the trail of the firecrest

Europe

"For any stable European future you need the consent of the people, a shared conviction that it is worth making sacrifices for the idea of Europe. That consensus has shattered." Roger Boyes on the revolutionary spirit of 1989

"With less qualification than Ed Miliband, we celebrate the arrival here of the Polish plumber, the Asian computer engineer and the Slovakian chambermaid," The Times says on immigration

Culture for vultures

Hate sport? Scared of the Olympics? Worry not: it’s like “an ace culture festival with quite a nice sports gala attached”

Dress codes can be useful but not if they suppress self-expression, says Ed Smith

Give our grime kids the respect they deserve, says Radio 1 DJ Annie Nightingale

In case you forgot

England v Italy is on Sunday at 7.45pm. What are you expecting?

(Times Opinion, Saturday June 23, 2012)

Times Opinion today | too much money, too little tax, German humour & Bletchley Park

Money money money

Is £40,000 a year enough to live the good life? Not for many of us, Philip Collins finds – even though Keynes thought we’d be earning this and working 25-hour weeks by now

Forty grand certainly isn’t enough for Jimmy Carr. But now he’s been outed and has apologised, other tax avoiders should come clean, The Times says

Could Google or Tesco fix our obsolete tax system? William Rees-Mogg says “yes”

Ref!

Ahead of tonight’s Germany v Greece Euro 2012 clash, German journalist Clemens Wergin advises Greeks to be more like their football team: German-flavoured

Code breaker

Ben Macintyre on the genius of one of Bletchley Park’s finest, Alan Turing: “He cycled around in a gas mask, possibly on account of hay fever, and chained his mug to a radiator to prevent anyone else using it

More

Aung San Suu Kyi’s lawyer, Jared Genser, on freedom fighting for the prisoners of conscience

The return of O-levels: the Education Secretary’s big exams plan could score him an A…but there’s potential for an F, The Times says

Can you spell “diaphragm”? If not – CUL8R

(Times Opinion, Friday June 22, 2012)

Jimmy Carr’s tax avoidance has uncovered an ideological split between Cameron and Miliband | Daniel Finkelstein

The gap between David Cameron and Ed Miliband on Jimmy Carr’s tax bill seems uninteresting at first. Miliband’s assertion that politicians shouldn’t lecture on morality but should change the law appears to be a bit of (understandable) Opposition distancing. Understandable because, naturally, he thinks it’s immoral. But he can see that the whole moral attack might go wrong for Cameron.

I think that this gap is more interesting than it seems.

Cameron believes that things that are legal can be immoral, and that a politician can say that. Miliband does not agree. He thinks if things are immoral they should be made illegal. And there is no role for a politician to take moral stands without outlawing the subject of their attack.

In other words, they are having an argument about a core proposition of Cameron’s Big Society.

Twitter: @Dannythefink

“Albert Einstein once said that filing a tax return was too difficult for a mathematician and so required a philosopher.” Read more

The ‘save Jimmy Carr’ argument seems to be based on the false idea that legality and morality are congruent: that it is the job of the law to tell us what is moral…Our first border must be that of conscience, not that of the law. Not least because the law can itself be immoral.

As The Times continues its investigation into tax avoidance, David Aaronovitch examines the conflict between law and morals when it comes to paying - or not paying - our dues.

Shaming tax avoiders: doing it the Norwegian way | Robbie Millen

The main moral of the Jimmy Carr brouhaha is that comedians’ accountants are always going to outsmart plodding Government officials. So if we want to clamp down on avoidance, how do we do it?

Well, there’s good old shame/transparency (delete as appropriate). In Norway, everyone’s tax returns are made public so it would be hard for a high-earning entertainer to disappear a big wodge of wonga without people quickly finding out.

Public scrutiny/prurience (delete as appropriate) keeps Norwegians honest. And the Norwegian way also brings much more pleasure than a Jimmy Carr gig.

You’ll find hours of tax-porn fun here. And for reference, here’s the skinny on Morten Harket, Eighties heart-throb and lead singer of A-Ha (who paid around £74,000 tax on earnings of about £209,000 in 2009).

Read more: The Times takes on the tax avoiders

Why do you think the UK has been the playground of the super-rich for so many years? Because of the nice weather?

“Gulliver” comments on today’s Times investigation into the thousands of wealthy people in Britain who pay as little as 1 per cent income tax. It is understood that comedian Jimmy Carr is the biggest beneficiary of K2, a Jersey-based tax scheme that shelters £168 million a year.

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