Leading rebel Labour TDs have launched a stinging attack on Bono and his U2 bandmates, calling on them to give Irish tax authorities some “New Year’s Pay” during this unprecedented economic crisis by bringing their tax affairs back to Ireland and helping to rebuild the country which all four band members reside in.
Former Junior Health Minister Roisin Shorthall and Dublin North-East TD Tommy Broughan have probably left the U2 singer “Rattle and Stunned” after questioning U2’s loyalty to Ireland following Bono’s comments that the band was only availing of Ireland’s tax competitiveness by moving their highly lucrative publishing royalties abroad.
“I think there is that issue about loyalty to the country you are born in and I think it would show a tremendous example to everybody if they were to bring back their tax affairs to Ireland,” said deputy Shorthall, adding “In any modern democracy people pay their fair share of tax.”
While praising the band’s musical success and its charitable work in the developing world, she said they should look to home first.
Deputy Broughan said that while he thought U2 were by far the greatest band to come out of Ireland, and praised their interest in the developing world, “their first duty is to their own people” and should pay their taxes in Ireland.
U2, who have sold over 150m records and have an accumulated net worth of €805m, have legally avoided paying tax on their royalties income here after moving part of their business to Holland in 2006 to avail of a lower tax rate after artists’ exemption tax in Ireland was capped at €250,000.
Bono has been accused of hypocrisy in the past for calling on the Irish Government to deliver on its financial commitments to the Third World — yet his business was legitimately avoiding tax here, part of which would have been sent overseas to the developing world.
Bono, 53, said in an interview published yesterday that the band was only availing of competitive Irish tax laws which had taken the country out of poverty. The U2 frontman said while this meant some companies move into Ireland, some also moved out.
Bono, whose real name is Paul Hewson, admitted he understood how some people on “the cranky left” were annoyed by the band’s tax affairs but he believed U2 was in harmony with Ireland’s tax policy.
Bono added that he thought the band’s tax affairs were one of many reasons why people had taken a dislike to U2 and him personally.
Last May Social Protection Minister Joan Burton criticised U2 and other companies for not paying their fair share of taxes.
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