herald

Monday 11 December 2017

Low tax rate gave us all we have - Bono

Bono
Bono

U2 frontman Bono has claimed that Ireland's controversial low corporate tax rates have "brought our country the only prosperity we've known".

"We are a tiny little country, we don't have scale, and our version of scale is to be innovative and to be clever, and tax competitiveness has brought our country the only prosperity we've known," Bono said.

"That's how we got these companies here...we don't have natural resources, we have to be able to attract people."

The band have come in for criticism over the years for moving their business abroad to reduce their tax bill.

Ireland's low corporate tax rate, combined with the 'Double Irish' loophole, allows corporate giants such as Apple, Google and Facebook to avoid billions in taxes.

The 'Double Irish' loophole allows US companies to reduce their effective tax bill well below Ireland's generous 12.5pc.

The loophole lets these companies pay well below this rate by shifting the majority of the taxable income from an operating company in Ireland to another Irish-registered firm located in an offshore tax haven, such as Bermuda.

The European Union is currently putting pressure on Ireland to alter the loophole amid warnings it could be the subject of a full-scale investigation.

Bono described himself in the interview as being a "natural social democrat" and added that Ireland had benefited from "more hospitals and firemen and teachers because of [our tax] policies".

"As a person who's spent nearly 30 years fighting to get people out of poverty, it was somewhat humbling to realise that commerce played a bigger job than development," he said.

"I'd say that's my biggest transformation in 10 years: understanding the power of commerce to make or break lives, and that it cannot be given into as the dominating force in our lives."

U2 have been slammed for their own tax arrangements.

Eight years ago, U2 Ltd - the company that looks after the band's publishing royalties - was transferred from Dublin to the Netherlands to reduce its tax bill.

Distortion

Speaking about U2's decision to move their company, The Edge said: "Was it totally fair? Probably not. The perception is a gross distortion. We do pay a lot of tax."

But he did say that protesters who challenged the band when they headlined Glastonbury in 2011 were right to do so.

The band also recently came under fire for teaming up with Apple to give away their new album for free.

"We got paid. And this is about a company (Apple) that's fighting for musicians to be paid," Bono said in response to criticisms about Songs of Innocence, release via iTunes.

hnews@herald.ie

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