Earlier today, it was reported that Sigur Rós were being investigated for tax evasion by the Directorate of Tax Investigations in Iceland. As a result, about 800 million ISK (roughly 8 million USD) of the band’s assets were temporarily frozen. The band has since repaid its debt to the state, including interest, and been officially cleared of any wrongdoing.
The Icelandic indie rockers have denied any responsibility for the tax mixup, instead placing the blame on their accountant, a former employee of PricewaterhouseCoopers. “This was quite annoying and extremely costly for us,” the group’s bassist Georg Hólm told Morgunblaðið (via The Reykjavik Grapevine). “We thought we had a good relationship with this accountant, we fully trusted him, but then it turned out he hadn’t handed in the right documents at the right time. This is nothing but a complete mess that we had no knowledge of until we were notified by the Commissioner.”
A majority of the frozen assets belonged to vocalist Jón Þór Birgisson, aka Jónsi, whose thirteen properties, two motorcycles, two cars, six bank accounts, and shares in three different companies totaled 638 million ISK (6.4 million USD). Drummer Orri Páll Dýrason’s assets were valued at 82 million ISK (820,000 USD) and Hólm’s added up to 78.5 million ISK (79,000 USD).
In a statement, the band further explained its innocence. “Sigur Rós have nothing to hide and have fully complied relevant information to the director of tax investigations (SRS) to resolve any and all issues,” adding:
“The band had an accounting relationship with PwC [PricewaterhouseCoopers] in Iceland from the beginning of their career until 2012, when they followed their long-standing accountant to his new venture Ryni Endurskodun. Late in 2014 the band were alerted that they had not filed correct tax returns for some years during the period 2010-2014. Part of the tax returns during that period were not filed correctly and that is not disputed by the band. This notification from the SRS [Directorate of Tax Investigations] was a surprise to the band as its members were all along in good faith that their tax returns were being submitted correctly by the accountant handling their affairs. This was disappointing to Sigur Rós and its members as they have from the beginning emphasized that their tax returns ought to be filed correctly in Iceland.
The band moved to accountancy firm, Virtus, at the start of 2015 to begin the process of getting their tax returns into correct form in accordance with the law. The band understand the SRS’s need to do their job, but would have preferred something less heavy-handed than the asset freeze. Especially because the bands members have from the start of the investigation co-operated fully with the directorate, submitted all information requested by the authorities and there was no need to freeze the assets of the members of Sigur Rós. This is in accordance with the opinion of the lawyers of Sigur Rós at LOGOS legal services.”