Geldof defends taxation arrangements

Bob Geldof today defended his taxation arrangements, saying he had no choice but to be non-domiciled in the United Kingdom because…

Bob Geldof today defended his taxation arrangements, saying he had no choice but to be non-domiciled in the United Kingdom because of his Irish citizenship.

Speaking after addressing the Euroscience Open Forum (Esof) in Dublin, Mr Geldof said it was the law that he had to be non-domiciled. The status is controversial in the United Kingdom as non-domiciles, or non-doms as they are known, can avoid paying tax on their overseas earnings.

“I don’t see the problem. That’s what the law says I have to be.”

Geldof said he pays all his taxes in the United Kingdom. “For instance, I own the show Survivor. All the money comes into the UK. I could f***ing park it in the Caymans. It comes in and I pay it [the tax].


“My private equity fund, 8 Miles [named after the distance between Europe and Africa] is registered in the UK because I just couldn’t be arsed. My status in the UK is a non-dom. The end."

He said it was “preposterous” the multi-billionaire Warren Buffet paid less tax than his secretary because of legal tax-avoidance measures, an arrangement Mr Buffet himself has tried to change.

The singer said others had tax issues, including the BBC, who will be asked questions next week at the Commons public accounts committee about arrangements that allowed high-paid presenters to avoid paying higher rates of tax.

“We’re in taxmaggedon. We’re in one of these involuntary spasms of moral repulsion that the Brits get into in particular.

“There’s something rotten in the core. What I think is happening is that it is the collapse in the system that is just no longer viable. What we are looking at is the close examination of things that we used to think are fine brought about by the economic collapse,” the former rock star and businessman said.

When questioned about fellow humanitarian Bono’s decision to move U2’s tax affairs to The Netherlands in 2006, for which he was roundly criticised, Geldof responded: “He is f***ing great guy. He is a solid, cool, very clever guy. It doesn’t obviate your question, it doesn’t answer your question, but I’m not going to comment on other people’s things.”

Geldof delivered the keynote speech at Esof where he spoke about the limitations of progress. He said growth was often associated with more and that more was a euphemism for greed.

His talk coincided with the 27th anniversary of Live Aid in 1985. He maintained the success of Africa was the “big story in the world, bigger than China” with all 10 of the fastest-growing nations on the continent.

He put that down to debt forgiveness, better governance, investment by the Chinese and mobile telephony that had broken down many of the infrastructural barriers on the continent.

He recalled visiting Dire Dawa, a city that had been the “epicentre of horror” during the Ethiopian famine of the mid-1980s, and noted how much it has changed in recent years.

A hotel in the city had a gym where “fat girls were trying to get thin, and the boys were trying to sculpt their bodies.

“It's really weird being at that juncture. These are the sons and daughters of the people who were dying on the streets 25 years ago.”

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times