Bono on tax: ‘Because I am an activist people think I should be stupid in business’

U2 frontman discusses moving band's publishing royalties from Ireland to the Netherlands

U2 have discussed criticism over their tax affairs in a new interview.

The band kicked off their US tour in Vancouver last night (May 14), speaking to Sky News ahead of the show, with the topic of tax schemes arising.

In 2006, the company that handles U2’s publishing royalties was moved from their home country, Ireland, to the Netherlands in a switch many believed was made so the group could receive tax breaks. The decision has attracted much criticism, including a demonstration at their 2011 Glastonbury set that saw scuffles break out between protestors and security guards.

Speaking to Sky News, frontman Bono defended his band’s actions, saying, “It is just some smart people we have working for us trying to be sensible about the way we are taxed.” He added: “We pay a fortune in tax, a fortune, just so people know, and we’re happy to pay a fortune in tax.”

Bono also addressed criticism that the move contradicts his history of charity work. He insisted: “Because you’re good at philanthropy and because I am an activist people think you should be stupid in business and I don’t run with that.” The Edge added, “So much of our business is outside of Ireland so it is ridiculous to make a big deal out of it.”

The Vancouver show was U2’s first full concert since releasing their album ‘Songs Of Innocence’ free to everyone with an iTunes account in 2014. The tour, dubbed ‘iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE’, comes to Britain in October for six shows at London’s O2 Arena and two at Glasgow SSE Hydro.

When ‘Songs Of Innocence’ was released, U2 said they had finished “70%” of a companion album ‘Songs Of Experience’, but there has yet to be any confirmed release date for that album. Similarly, they spoke of releasing an ambient companion album to 2009’s ‘No Line On The Horizon’, but that was eventually abandoned.

U2 will play the following UK shows:

London O2 Arena (October 25-26, 29-30, November 2-3)
Glasgow SSE Hydro (November 6-7)