Members of Ireland’s Labour Party want the rock band U2 to “pay up” when it comes to taxes. The band, fronted by Paul David Hewson, better known as Bono, currently bases its business out of Holland, avoiding Ireland’s high tax rates.
“I think there is that issue about loyalty to the country you are born in,” former Junior Health Minister Roisin Shorthall told The Irish Examiner. “I think it would show a tremendous example to everybody if they were to bring back their tax affairs to Ireland.”
The band currently has a net worth of 805 million euros—roughly $1.1 billion—but has avoided paying Ireland’s royalties tax since 2006 by basing its operations overseas. The Dutch tax climate is friendlier to artists than Ireland’s, where the government caps artists’ tax exemption at 250,000 euros.
Tax competitiveness is an economic strategy through which countries compete for foreign investment by offering tax incentives. In the past, the policy has helped keep Ireland out of poverty. But now that the country is struggling to emerge from a deep recession and is losing some of its competitiveness, critics claim Bono’s tax-evading habits are hypocritical, given his reputation as an anti-poverty activist.
“Their first duty is to their own people,” Tommy Broughan, a member of parliament, told The Irish Examiner. “[They] should pay their taxes in Ireland.”
Bono defended his financial decisions in an interview with The Guardian published Saturday, saying he’s operating within the philosophy of tax competitiveness: “It has been a successful policy. On the cranky left that is very annoying, I can see that. But tax competitiveness is why Ireland has stayed afloat.”