Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Bono misses the point on tax, presumably deliberately

So in his big Observer interview at the weekend, Bono took the opportunity to address U2's "efficient" tax arrangements, and explain why he isn't a shitty, cash-nuzzling hypocrite. Go on, Bono:

The other persistent criticism is about the band's decision to offshore part of their income through the Netherlands to avoid tax. Was it not hypocrisy for you to try to hold the Irish government to account for its spending while going through fairly exhaustive efforts to avoid paying into the Irish exchequer yourself?

It is not an intellectually rigorous position unless you understand that at the heart of the Irish economy has always been the philosophy of tax competitiveness. Tax competitiveness has taken our country out of poverty. People in the revenue accept that if you engage in that policy then some people are going to go out, and some people are coming in. 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. When the Germans tried to impose a different tax regime on the country in exchange for a bailout, the taoiseach said they would rather not have the bailout. So U2 is in total harmony with our government's philosophy.
Now, what this is is a fair attempt to defend the Irish government's relaxed approach - you make tax-paying a thing that becomes a matter of choosing where you wish to pay tax, you must accept that some people will choose to pay tax elsewhere.

What it doesn't do, though, is even begin to address the charge that Bono and the boys make that choice.

"If people leave their front door open, they shouldn't be surprised if people steal their televisions" isn't a justification for stealing a television, it just explains the context in which you're walking down the street with someone else's Viera under your arm.

Furthermore, it really doesn't explain why you'd feel justified in telling people what to do with the valuables you hadn't pinched.

So, okay, Bono: you've established that the Irish Government might accept that what you've done is to be expected. Can you have another go at explaining why it was right?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Is he implying that not paying tax is an authentic expression of Irishness or some such bollocks?

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