July 2011        

U2 pay tax?

At this year’s rock and folk festival at Glastonbury in England a group called Art Uncut made the headlines. They didn’t make an appearance on stage but managed to grab the limelight from the evening’s star attraction, the group that calls itself U2.
      Hoisting a large balloon emblazoned with a short message—“U PAY TAX 2?”—visible to the crowds assembled for the evening’s show, it was a brave and bold piece of advice aimed at those above on the stage.
      Many readers will be aware of the meaning of the message, but for those who aren’t, it might be useful to read on . . .
      Deciding not to pay taxes, in 2006 the U2 group availed of legal loopholes and took measures that only those in positions of power can.
      What Arts Uncut was saying was that although tax avoidance may be technically legal in this case, it is unethical to deny income to the state when this money is needed for the benefit of its citizens. Moreover, the state diverts some of its income tax to benefit the people of countries struggling to survive.
      The U2 group is as well known for its leader’s crusades for aid for Africa as it is for its success in the music industry. Paul Hewson, who calls himself “Bono,” has managed to insinuate himself into the political circles of the most powerful states in the world, ostensibly to procure financial aid for African states.
      It is a little hard to believe the sincerity of his concern for the poor of Africa when we know that he, who is surely one of the world’s richest men, pays no taxes. Phillip Goff, a member of Art Uncut, puts it like this: “By shopping around the world for the best tax deal, U2 showed it doesn’t care about the developing world.”
■ For more details see www.artuncut.org.uk.

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