Icelandic music stars challenge tax laws

The Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Rós is calling for a review of the country’s tax laws, as its members prepare to face a second trial over charges of tax evasion, claiming there is a risk of ‘double jeopardy’

The band said ‘accounting errors’ by its financial advisors meant they owed 151m Icelandic krona (£833,960) in unpaid taxes to the Icelandic directorate of Internal Revenue (RSK) for the period 2011-14.

Sigur Rós members pleaded guilty in a case brought by the tax authority and paid back the amount outstanding, plus historical fines, which amounted to 150% of the original bill.

The district court in Iceland dismissed a separate case relating to the tax payments in March 2018, but the high court has now said this will go ahead.

The band is arguing that the high court case is seeking further fines and sentencing relating to the same period as the one for which they have already settled with the RSK, meaning they are being tried for the same offence twice.

In a public statement on the issues, Sigur Rós said this move represented ‘an unjust and draconian prosecution by the Icelandic government who are unfairly seeking to portray us as deliberate tax evaders, something we have always and continue to strongly deny.’

The statement said: ‘We have always provided our full cooperation to all investigations and reached an agreement with the Icelandic tax authorities to pay what we owed plus interest and fines.

‘We have been charged and tried twice for the same offence, our assets have been frozen for years now, we are facing potential financial ruin and as such we are calling on the Icelandic government to revoke these outdated double jeopardy tax laws, which have affected numerous Icelandic businesses.’

According to the band, the Icelandic government is actively pursuing over 100 open cases also involving a potential double jeopardy ruling.

Sigur Rós said: ‘We want to shine a light on systemic failures rather than individuals. We know that the legislation is broken and that the courts have their hands tied at present. This needs to be urgently addressed.’

A spokesman for the Icelandic government said: ‘We do not offer comment on active legal cases and will therefore not provide further comment on the Sigur Rós band legal case.’

No court date has yet been set for the high court case.

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