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Bono Avoids Taxes, Joins Forbes

Ellen Nakashima / Washington Post | August 8 2006

U2 and its lead singer Bono have been pushing the U.S. and EU countries to fork over more money for Third World nations to relieve debt and fight AIDS.

But when it comes to paying their fair share of taxes to help those efforts, U2 wants a free ride.

That's the word from Ireland, where the group has been based since it was founded in the early 1980s.

The Irish Examiner reports that U2 and Bono are furious that Ireland is doing away with its law exempting artists and authors from taxation.

Under the Irish government's last budget, artists and authors can get up to 250,000 euros ($325,000) in income tax free, but after that they pay like everyone else.

Most taxpayers would be joyous they could get the exemption Ireland provides.

But U2 rakes in tens of millions globally, and the new schedule doesn't sit well with the millionaire singer and his band members.

The Examiner reports that beginning in June of this year the group began moving parts of their business to Netherlands. The paper said now U2 pays "virtually no tax on royalties" in Holland.

And there's more news that U2 may be more of a savvy business than a social cause. Forbes magazine – the "capitalist tool" – revealed this week that U2 front man Bono and others in a financial investment company called Elevation Partners have purchased a large minority stake in Forbes Media, which owns the magazine.

Elevation Partners is a private equity firm which invests in intellectual property and media and entertainment companies. The Times said the investment amounted to $250 to $300 million.

"This investment by Elevation Partners will now accelerate our pursuit of a number of very exciting opportunities for growth," said Forbes Chief Executive Steve Forbes, who is also editor in chief of Forbes magazine.

Forbes has good reason to be gleeful: he's been a champion of free market ideas forever.

But the Times noted the irony of Bono's investment "in a magazine that celebrates wealth and consumption . . . "

Roger McNamee, a co-founder of Bono's Elevation Partners, responded: "The way you solve poverty is giving people the tools to overcome it."

It's a good point, but one never pushed by Bono.

The paper said the singer was unavailable for comment.

Perhaps he was in the Netherlands listening to "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For."


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