Right now, the Icelandic government is investigating the members of Sigur Ròs for tax evasion. As Pitchfork points out (via The Reykjavík Grapevine), the local newspaper Fréttablaðið reports that the government has frozen millions of dollars’ worth of the band’s assets.
According to Fréttablaðið, the band’s frozen assets total 800 million ISK, or about $8 million US. Most of the frozen assets belong to Sigur Ròs frontman Jón Þór Birgisson, including 13 properties, two motorcycles, two cars, six bank accounts, and shares in different companies. But drummer Orri Páll Dýrason and bassist Georg Hólm have also had hundreds of thousands of dollars frozen.
The members of the band are claiming that they didn’t intentionally evade paying taxes. Instead, they blame a mistake made by their accountant. In an interview, Hólm tells another local news outlet has already reported that they’ve paid the money owed and that he doesn’t know whether there will be a court case against the band.
Here’s a statement from the band about the whole saga:
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. The band had an accounting relationship with PWC 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 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.
Sigur Ròs headlined their own music festival in Reykjavík a few months ago.
UPDATE: The Reykjavík Grapevine reports that the band members have been cleared.