BBC broadcaster John Simpson admits tax avoidance
JOHN Simpson, BBC broadcaster, has admitted he used to be a tax avoider, placing his home with an offshore company until he saw the error of his ways.
The journalist, the BBC’s World Affairs Editor, disclosed he placed his London house in a Bahamas company controlled by his wife, Dee Kruger.
The arrangement, which is legal, meant he could avoid inheritance tax or stamp duty after a future sale of the home, which he bought for £1.85m in 2004.
Simpson, 67, told the Independent he had already decided to end the arrangement, and would place the house back in the couple’s own names.
He told the newspaper he felt the move was “absolutely right”, despite potentially costing him a six-figure sum in capital gains tax.
He said he had made the decision before details of tax avoidance methods were uncovered in a newspaper investigation, with comedian Jimmy Carr publicly vilified for his arrangements.
“I pay rather a lot of tax.” Simpson added.
“It's absolutely right for a citizen of this country to pay whatever amount of tax, within reason, the government of the day feels is required.
“It's painful but I think that's part of the duties of a citizen of this country.”
Simpson also spoke of the BBC's Queen's Diamond Jubilee coverage, acknowledging viewer's disappointment and criticism over it being lightweight.
He told the newspaper: "I missed David Dimbleby so much. I do find it a bit weird that we've got this state-of-the-art Rolls-Royce that for some reason we don't always bring out for these occasions."
Parliament has already launched an investigation into the growing level of tax loopholes, after evidence of their widespread use emerged.
The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee is to investigate the work of the taxman and how tax rules are being flouted by high profile Britons and accountants.
An investigation by the Times newspaper found dozens of wealthy people, including financiers, medical professionals, celebrities and footballers, continue to use avoidance schemes to reduce their income tax bills.
The tax affairs of Jimmy Carr and Gary Barlow were highlighted, causing a political furore after David Cameron called the comedian's tax affairs "morally wrong". Mr Carr has since apologised.
Last week, Simpson also disclosed he was "stockpiling pills", explaining he would rather commit suicide than have his son see him become a "gibbering wreck" in old age.
Simpson, who has a six-year-old son, said: "If it were me and I saw which way the wind was blowing, I would try and find a way of avoiding it.
"I’m already working on ways of ensuring that I don’t end up dependent on someone else. I have a couple of bottles of pills handy. I’m not advocating it for anyone else.
“I don’t want my 6 year-old son to have his only memory of me as a gibbering wreck. I’d rather take an early ‘out’ than just hang on for the sake of keeping on breathing and all the other bodily functions.”