U2 SINGER Bono says he was â€œstungâ€ and â€œhurtâ€ by criticism of the band moving part of its business to the Netherlands to lessen its tax burden.
DUBLIN, Ireland (RushPRnews) 02/28/09-In an interview in The Ticket today, he speaks about the bandâ€™s 2006 decision to move part of its business out of Ireland following the Governmentâ€™s decision to put a cap on the amount of tax-free earnings available to artists.
U2â€™s move was criticised by politicians and some development groups. â€œWe pay millions and millions of dollars in tax. The thing that stung us [about the criticism] was the accusation of hypocrisy for my work as an activist,â€ the singer says.
He suggests there is a double standard involved in welcoming international investment in financial services in Ireland while criticising Irish entities that operate abroad.
â€œI can understand how people outside the country wouldnâ€™t understand how Ireland got to its prosperity but everybody in Ireland knows that there are some very clever people in the Government and in the Revenue who created a financial architecture that prospered the entire nation â€“ it was a way of attracting people to this country who wouldnâ€™t normally do business here,â€ he says. â€œAnd the financial services brought billions of dollars every year directly to the exchequer.
â€œWhatâ€™s actually hypocritical is the idea that then you couldnâ€™t use a financial services centre in Holland. The real question people need to ask about Irelandâ€™s tax policy is: â€˜Was the nation a net gain benefactor?â€™ And of course it was â€“ hugely so.â€
The cap of â‚¬250,000 on tax-free incomes for artists was introduced in 2006 by then minister for finance Brian Cowen. A tax exemption scheme for artists had originally been introduced in 1969 by the minister for finance at that time, Charles Haughey.
As a very high-grossing act through album sales, tour receipts and publishing/royalties income, the cap imposed in 2006 would have left the band with a multimillion tax bill.
As an activist who has access to world leaders, Bono has called for the developed world to lighten Africaâ€™s debt burden, combat poverty, promote fair trade and increase funds in the battle against Africaâ€™s Aids pandemic. His work has been recognised by three nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize and a â€œNobel Man of Peaceâ€ prize. Two years ago the singer was awarded a knighthood in the British honours list.
Speaking about a Christian Aid report from two years ago which criticised him for â€œtax avoidanceâ€, the singer says: â€œIt hurts when the criticism comes in internationally. But I canâ€™t speak up without betraying my relationship with the band â€“ so you take the shit. People who donâ€™t know our music â€“ itâ€™s very easy for them to take a position on us â€“ they run with the stereotypes and caricature of us.â€
For the bandâ€™s guitarist, The Edge, the bandâ€™s tax affairs are â€œour own private thing â€“ we do business all over the world, we pay taxes all over the world and we are totally tax compliantâ€. The guitarist added that due to the recession, the plan by himself and Bono to redevelop their Clarence Hotel in Dublin and the bandâ€™s plan to build a â€œU2 Towerâ€ on Britain Quay in the cityâ€™s docklands were now â€œon holdâ€ and â€œbeing looked at with a much colder eyeâ€.