Bono Explains U2’s Offshore Tax Shelter

Does Bono pay his fair share in taxes?

The super-rich U2 frontman acknowledged that the “cranky left” is upset, but added that the money management of the formerly Dublin-based U2 is in “total harmony” with the government of Ireland.

Bono is well known for leading philanthropic initiatives that are fighting poverty and disease particularly in Africa. He also may or may not be the world’s wealthiest musician as a result of his investment in the Facebook IPO. Among other ventures, the U2 lead singer heads his charity organization ONE which takes up social causes all over the globe and has enlisted world leaders in these efforts.

Bono also attracted a lot of attention last year when he said that only capitalism and entrepreneurism can rescue people from poverty.

When pressed about his tax return in a long interview with the Guardian on a visit to Ghana in west Africa, Bono provided a somewhat ambiguous explanation as to why the band has parked its fortune in offshore accounts. Bono and the band apparently runs a lot of its cash through The Netherlands to avoid the tax man in Ireland. This not small potatoes (so to speak). The band reportedly has a net worth of $1.1 billion and has sold 150 million records worldwide, which makes the low tax rates in Amsterdam very inviting.

About avoiding Ireland’s taxes while raising questions about the Irish government’s spending policies, Bono replied:

“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 [prime minister] said they would rather not have the bailout. So U2 is in total harmony with our government’s philosophy.”

Earlier this year, Bono confirmed that U2 was working on its 13th album without a specific timetable for its release.

Watch Bono do an impression of Bill Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative:

[top image credit: World Economic Forum]