Irish funnyman Dara Ó Briain waded into an unexpected Twitter brawl with Fidelity Worldwide Investment retirement director Alan Higham last week, with the pair exchanging blows on tax.
Ó Briain, a panel show heavyweight and host of maths programme School of Hard Sums, made a daring foray into the technical world of pensions legislation, slamming the concept of a “death tax” on the popular social media website.
“There is no such thing as a ‘death tax’,” Ó Briain growled to his followers. “It’s a tax your kids pay for getting a free house and a lifetime worth of savings.”
Higham was clearly riled by the intrusion on his turf and returned fire: “It is a tax paid on death; “death tax” seems very concise way of expressing it.“
Adding what he clearly assumed would be a devastating final blow: “Stick to comedy, you’re a natural.”
But Ó Briain refused to take the attack lying down.
“It’s a pension paid on by inheritors on inheritance, not by the dead on death,” [sic] the comic replied, “maybe, not so patronising, next time?”
Bruised but undeterred, the Fidelity man quickly shifted his balance, and delivered his counter.
“You may support taxing assets on death but maybe less insensitive to people who’ve suffered bereavement? It’s not a lottery win,” Higham swiped.
Judges scoring the bout said they weren’t sure who had won. But hopes of a rematch remain high – Ó Briain has been known to host pensions awards dinners, and WSJ hacks will be pointing Higham his way for a lucrative round two.