U2's tax move is defended by band's manager
Published 21/09/2006 | 00:11
U2 MANAGER Paul McGuinness has defended the band's controversial decision to move part of its financial empire to Holland, saying they are entitled to minimise the tax they pay.
Earlier this summer, the group began moving some of their business affairs to a Dutch finance house in order to avail of a virtually tax-free status on their handsome royalties.
They are believed to have saved around ?15m by transferring the music publishing side of their business empire to Amsterdam - a relatively paltry sum given their estimated joint wealth of ?690m.
However, in an interview with Hot Press, Mr McGuinness, who manages the group's finances through his company Principle Management, defended the band. "Here's what I would say, and this is really all I have to say about it. The reality is that U2's business is 90pc conducted around the world. 90pc of our tickets and 98pc of our records are sold outside of Ireland.
"It [Ireland] is where we live and where we work and where we employ a lot of people. But we pay taxes all over the world. And like any other business, we're perfectly entitled to minimise the tax we pay," he said.
The decision to transfer some of their business dealings came ahead of the introduction of a cap on the artists' exemption scheme next year.
Given his high-profile role as a humanitarian activist and campaigner for Third World causes, Bono came in for strong criticism following the revelation that he and the rest of the band were attempting to lower the amount of tax they pay.
Mr McGuinness also denounced a recent decision by Universal Records to give away free music downloads as "awful". The manager said such a move put "the money in the hands of the phone companies and the ISPs".
He said the band were currently ensconced in Abbey Road, where they are working on their new album and a charity collaboration with punk rockers Green Day.
Mr McGuinness rubs shoulders with several political heavyweights such as the new PD leader Michael McDowell and British PM Tony Blair.