'For the record,' he said in a letter to the Baltimore Sun,' U2 and the individual band members have a totally clean record with every jurisdiction to which they are required to pay tax and have never been and will never be involved in tax evasion.' While Edge was writing specifically in response to one Simon Moroney who wrote to the paper on July 7 saying U2 lead singer Bono 'exemplifies the worst characteristics of Wall Street, both for excess and tax evasion,' the claim that U2 are tax evaders is nothing new.
In 2002, John Safran in his SBS produced TV show claimed the band took advantage of Ireland's laws giving tax free status to artists, which enabled them to pay no tax. From January 1, 1997, the threshold has been euro 225,000, but as of 2011, that tax free status has been limited to the first euro 40,000 per annum.
In an article in Moneyweek published on February 28, 2007, financial journalist Simon Wilson wrote: 'For U2, whose frontman, Bono, is a high-profile campaigner on global poverty, the publicity resulting from this tax-avoidance strategy [moving the company to Holland] has been less than welcome, but the group argues it's merely being tax-efficient, just like any other business.'
British activist group ArtUncut staged a protest during the band's set at Glastonbury last week by erecting a 9ft wide and 25ft high column with the slogan 'U pay tax 2?' before being stopped by 'heavy handed' security who allegedly broke the finger of one of the team members.
The group explain their motives on their website: 'In 2006 U2 Ltd moved most of its tax affairs to Holland, seemingly in response to the Irish government's decision to cap the tax-free exemption on royalties at euro 225,000 (before this, artists in Ireland were not obliged to pay any tax on royalties).' The Edge added in his letter that 'U2 and its members have paid many, many millions of dollars in taxes to the United States Internal Revenue Service over the years.'
Holland's tax laws have also attracted The Rolling Stones, whose financial manager Prince Rupert Loewenstein set up the band's company in Amsterdam in 1972.