Bono has defended U2’s tax arrangements, saying just because he is a debt campaigner does not mean he needs to be “stupid” with his money.
The band, which kicked off the latest world tour in Vancouver on Thursday night, have been repeatedly criticised in the past for their tax arrangements.
Nine years ago, the band moved their publishing arm to the Netherlands after the tax exemption for artists was capped at €250,000. The band had been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the scheme introduced by former taoiseach Charles Haughey.
Speaking to Sky News, Bono said it was simply “sensible” to move a portion of their business to the Netherlands and that the group “paid a fortune in tax”.
“It’s just some smart people we have working for us trying to be sensible about the way we are taxed. And that’s just one of our companies, by the way, there’s lots of companies. And we pay a fortune, just so people know, we pay a fortune in tax and we are happy to pay a fortune in tax, people should,” he said.
The U2 frontman said that just because he was an debt campaigner did not mean he should be stupid with his money.
“Because you’re good at philanthropy I think and because I am an activist people think you should be stupid in business and I don’t run with that,” he said.
Guitarist The Edge said it was “ridiculous” that people made an issue out of the band’s tax arrangements
“So much of our business is outside of Ireland. It’s kind of ridiculous to make a big deal about the fact that we operate outside of Ireland because everything we do is outside of Ireland,” he said.
The Edge took a stumble on the bands opening tour night
Bono caused controversy last year when he defended Ireland’s corporate tax regime as a number of companies operating here had been criticised for availing of the so-called “Double Irish” loophole.
The loophole allowed companies to reduce their effective tax bill below the 1.5% corporate tax rate by moving most of their taxable income from an operating company here to another Irish-registered firm located in an offshore tax haven.
“We are a tiny little country, we don’t have scale, and our version of scale is to be innovative and to be clever, and tax competitiveness has brought our country the only prosperity we’ve known...,” said Bono.
Meanwhile, while the band’s opening night of their Innocence and Experience tour was well received by the critics. However, it was not without mishap as guitarist The Edge fell off the edge of the stage in front of 19,000 people.
It came on the last song of the night while the band played on as he was helped back onto the stage by security guards. The Edge later posted a picture of his grazed arm after the show with the comment: “Didn’t see the edge, I’m OK!!”
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