Lord Alan Sugar defends celebrity tax avoiders: Apprentice boss says 'They’re performers not businessmen'

The company boss and television personality suggests that high-profile tax avoiders shouldn't be vilified

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The Independent Online

It’s not often you hear the founder of a multi-million corporation say that they simply want to pay all of their taxes, but Lord Sugar is no ordinary businessman.

Distancing himself from the tax avoidance schemes that caused embarrassment for Take That singer Gary Barlow, comedian Jimmy Carr and radio jockey Chris Moyles, Amstrad owner and TV star Alan Sugar, 67, said he, too, was offered the choice of joining the schemes but turned them all down.

“I’ve never been interested. Loads of times I was offered their schemes but I’m a very straightforward thinking person and I keep things nice and straight,” he told the Daily Mirror.

“They come up with all these fascinating schemes which are all allegedly legal and yet the people who bring them to you all then get a fee for doing so.

“Then off they go and 10 years later you find out it was all wrong. I try and keep it very simple – pay your tax, that’s it. I’ve been right in the end.”

 

Lord Sugar, whose long-running BBC series The Apprentice returns to screens tonight at 9pm for its tenth year, did, however, stick up for the media personalities who had.

“To be fair to Gary Barlow and Jimmy Carr, they’re performers – they’re not businessmen.

“If they were proper businessmen, I would have no sympathy for them.

“If they’re performers, actors, this, that and the other, and getting loads of money coming in from what they do, and they go to an accountant and say: ‘What do I do?’, and the accountant says, ‘Well, I can save you a bit of tax’. I think they have then said, ‘Fair enough, so long as it’s legal – do it.’

“I think it was ignorance, not stupidity.”

He also told Radio Times last week that he pins copies of the cheques he sends to the taxman on his office wall, including one for £48,239,250 from 1989, adding that he didn’t want to “live a life dodging taxmen”.

It was revealed earlier this month that former Radio 1 DJ Moyles could face a massive tax bill after a court ruled against an appeal in a £290million tax avoidance case.

He had taken part in a scheme called Working Wheels, in which he claimed to have run up £1million of losses selling £3,731 worth of used cars, offsetting the alleged loss in the 2007-08 tax year against his other income including his £700,000 BBC salary.

Carr, Barlow and Moyles all apologised for their involvement in tax avoidance schemes.

Robson Green previously took aim at eminent figures who took part in the aggressive schemes, criticising them for not helping to financially support critical public services such as the police force and NHS.

“I tell you what, my son was in real trouble when he was young and we took him to the hospital, there were four specialists waiting for him,” he told the Radio Times.

“That’s why you pay your taxes. We’ve got a police system who protect us, we’ve got firemen who put out fires.

“We’ve got defence, man. That’s what tax is for. Why don’t you want to invest in that? I don’t get it.

“These f***ers who try to avoid it should hang their heads in shame.”

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