All mu­si­cal tax avoiders even­tu­ally end up pay­ing the piper

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - NEWS -

You have to hope Gary Bar­low has Bono’s num­ber to hand. This week’s news that the Take That singer and his band­mates were caught up in an al­leged tax avoid­ance scheme was a re­minder that pop and tax make for un­com­fort­able bed­mates.

Like all of us on some level, pop stars re­sent pay­ing tax. We all smiled along when The Bea­tles at­tacked the tax­man with his “one for you, 19 for me” code.

But un­like most of us, pop stars can call on bean counters and ad­vis­ers to find ways and means to avoid pay­ing tax or re­duce their tax li­a­bilty.

Many Bri­tish pop stars over the years have dis­cov­ered they can use Ire­land as a tax haven (though Ir­ish pop stars, as we know, favour go­ing Dutch). Acts such as Olly Murs, JLS and Ch­eryl Cole have shown a fond­ness for Ire­land’s (ta)X Fac­tor in re­cent times.

For the big acts, it’s a tricky game to play be­cause of the na­tional trea­sure thing. As Bono and co know only too well, the tax is­sue will be part of their nar­ra­tive from now

un­til the end of time.

In the case of Take That and es­pe­cially Bar­low, their ac­tions have opened a large can of worms. There are calls to take back the Or­der of the Bri­tish Em­pire hon­our which the singer was awarded for his work for mu­sic and char­ity.

There have been at­tacks on him from at­ten­tion-seek­ing politi­cians and pop stars such as Lily Allen.

Then, there’s the pos­si­ble re­ac­tion from fans. As is the way with fans, many will be blind to this, but, as with U2, there will be a size­able co­terie of ca­sual fans who will be turned off. In­creas­ingly, any am­biva­lence about tax is seen as a bad thing. Still, there’s al­ways the tax bill world tour to look for­ward to, head­ing for Cro­ker in 2015. See Re­volver, p28

Bono: knows all too well about the tax back­lash

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