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U2 frontman Bono's tax avoidance 'depriving poor'





U2 front man Bono came under fire today from campaigners who claim he his not putting his money where his mouth is.

The human rights activist was accused of robbing the world's poorest people by storing some of his wealth in a tax haven.

Bono impersonator Paul O'Toole joined protesters outside the Irish Department of Finance on the eve of the launch of the band's new album No Line On The Horizon in the Irish Republic.

Campaign group the Debt and Development Coalition Ireland (DDCI) claimed the supergroup was depriving the Irish exchequer of much-needed revenue which could be spent on overseas aid.

It claimed that despite Bono's fight to help the world's poor, he had joined a list of individuals and corporations who have denied impoverished governments millions through tax avoidance or evasion.

DDCI's Nessa Ni Chasaide called on Bono to give his view on the impact of tax injustice on the impoverished world.

"We wanted to raise our concern that while Bono has championed the cause of fighting poverty and injustice in the impoverished world, the fact is that his band has moved part of its business to a tax shelter in the Netherlands," she said.

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"Tax avoidance and tax evasion costs the impoverished world at least 160 million US dollars every year. This is money urgently required to bring people out of poverty.

"U2 is just one part of the problem. This is a much wider and systemic problem in our global financial system. Every company and individual has the responsibility to pay the right amount of tax."

The rock band moved the company U2 Ltd, set up to deal with royalty payments, to a finance house in Holland in 2006 after the Irish Government scrapped an artist income tax exemption scheme. The new limit was capped at 250,000 euro (£223,000).

Accounts for 2007 show U2 Ltd paid out more than 21 million euro (£19m) in wages.

Mr O'Toole also launched a mock version of one of U2's greatest hits, I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, taunting the band for the move overseas.

Oxfam and Concern Worldwide are among 70 organisations involved in the coalition, which met Irish Finance Minister Brian Lenihan before protesters gathered.

"We have tax treaties with other countries that regulate where you pay tax," said Mr Lenihan.

"There is a problem with smaller countries that have to set up deliberate tax havens. We are raising that at EU level."

Andy Storey from justice group Afri said tax was a fundamental question of global justice.

"Lost taxes in impoverished countries far outweigh what they receive from rich countries in aid," he added.

"There are trillions of dollars stashed in tax havens. If that money was taxed in the countries where it was earned, governments would have their own resources to improve the lives of their people."

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