Sunday, June 10, 2007

Bono--humanitarian or t ax dodger

Bono, the lead singer of U2, wants to be thought of as a humanitarian, but the sad truth is that he is a tax dodger. He chastises governments for not following through on commitments to Africa, while taking advantage of tax loopholes. For god sake, the man is a multi-millionaire. NPR interviewed him recently and the only tough questions they asked was why he wears sunglasses and what he talked to President Bush about.

Here's Lucy Komisar on the tax dodger

Bono’s protest at a Berlin news conference Monday might be taken more seriously if he and his U2 band were not contributing to the system that deprives developing countries of far more than western aid – much of which has to be repaid.

Bono is a tax dodger. The Irish Bono ran his music publishing company in Ireland, where he and his partners took advantage of a law that exempted musicians and artists from taxes on royalties. To dodge taxes on non-royalty income, Bono’s interests had the help of offshore nominee directors...

Bono’s Dublin company earned $110 million in 2005. Taking profits through the company rather than individually, Bono would have had to pay only 12.5 percent corporate tax, a rate still below that of the local bus conductor or plumber or school teacher.

But that apparently was too much for the man who has homes on the Irish Coast and in the South of France and New York City. So, last year, Bono “moved” the registration of his business to the Netherlands, where it will pay about 5 percent tax on royalties.

Maybe Ireland and the countries of the G-7 could provide more development aid if Bono and people like him didn’t dodge their fair taxes.

What might the people in the countries he wants to help think about this? The same “move your registration to the lowest tax rate” system that Bono uses is employed by multinational corporations to dodge taxes worldwide.

Developing countries lose an estimated $500 billion every year as a result.

As Africa is the continent Bono expresses most concern about, he ought to listen to what the African Union says: Tax dodging by foreign companies costs it $150 billion a year - three times what it receives in aid.

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