February 27, 2009

Bono criticized for business plan

Rocker Bono has denied he is a hypocrite for moving part of his band U2's business to the Netherlands to avoid paying higher taxes in Ireland.

The Times of London said Oxfam, Concern and several Catholic missionary orders claim U2 has deprived its homeland of revenue for social services and overseas aid by taking its financial affairs to Holland where the tax rate on royalty earnings is lower than it is in Ireland.

There is nothing illegal about what they have done in taking advantage of more favorable tax laws but, given Bono has invested so much in promoting an end to poverty, we see a contradiction there, Nessa Ni Chasaide, of the Debt and Development Commission, told the newspaper.

We pay millions and millions of dollars in tax. The thing that stung us was the accusation of hypocrisy for my work as an activist, U2 front man Bono countered in an interview with the Irish Times.

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, the singer said. It was a way of attracting people to this country who wouldn't normally do business here and the financial services brought billions of dollars every year directly to the Exchequer. What's actually hypocritical is the idea that then you don't use a financial services center in Holland. The real question people need to ask about Ireland's tax policy is, 'Was the nation a net gain benefactor?' and, of course, it was -- hugely so. So, there was no hypocrisy for me.