Rockers U2 have defended their decision to keep the majority of their wealth out of their native Ireland's tax system - insisting they are "hurt" by accusations they have robbed the country's economy of millions of dollars.
The One hitmakers were targeted by protesters this week (25Feb09), with activists from campaign group the Debt and Development Coalition Ireland (DDCI) voicing their concerns about the band's finances.
U2, who are all based in Ireland, moved their publishing company to the Netherlands in 2006 after the Irish government changed the rules over the country's tax-free status for artist royalties. The ruling capped tax-free earnings for artists at 250,000 Euros ($320,000/£281,000).
The protesters claim the group have deprived their native country of millions of dollars in tax revenue by storing their wealth in bank accounts abroad. Many have also accused frontman and human rights activist, Bono, of hypocrisy over the decision, claiming U2 have been denying the Irish government the chance to help impoverished nations.
The band have now hit back at the accusations, calling the claims unfair and hurtful.
Bono says, "We pay millions and millions of dollars in tax. The thing that stung us was the accusation of hypocrisy for my work as an activist. There was no hypocrisy for me. Were just part of a system that has benefited the nation greatly and thats a system that will be closed down in time. It hurts when the criticism comes internationally.
"But I cant speak up without betraying my relationship with the band. So you take the s**t. People who dont know our music - it's very easy for them to take a position on us, they run with the stereotypes and caricature of us.
Bono's bandmate The Edge adds, "Its our own private thing. We do business all over the world, we pay taxes all over the world and we are totally tax compliant."