Local government officials in Iceland have charged Sigur Rós with tax evasion.
The avante-garde rock musicians stand accused of misreporting figures on their returns between 2011 and 2014, with the group allegedly dodging a total of 151 million Icelandic Krona (or $1.2 million dollars) in taxes. The charges claim that frontman Jónsi evaded around a total of $345,000 in income taxes. The rest of the band — Georg Hólm, Kjartan Sveinsson and Orri Pall Dyrason — apparently failed to report $1.6 million in income, avoiding a combined total of $725,000 in taxes. The state also stipulated that Hólm and Dyrason avoided around $150,000 in taxes on their investments.
The indictment comes on the heels of a separate federal probe conducted by Iceland’s Directorate of Tax Investigations in 2018. After the agency froze around 800 million ISK (roughly $8 million USD) of the band’s assets last spring, the group repaid its debt to the state and was cleared of any wrongdoing. At the time, the musicians faulted a former accountant for mishandling their taxes, with bassist Georg Hólm noting that the situation was “a complete mess that we had no knowledge of until we were notified by the Commissioner.”
With a new case now moving forward, Sigur Rós maintain their innocence. In a statement, the band said they “regre[t] seeing the case end up in court,” while their defense lawyer, Bjarnfredur Olafsson, added that “the members of Sigur Rós are musicians — not experts on bookkeeping and international finance.” A court date has yet to be set, though in the meantime, the government has frozen over $6.5 million worth of assets owned by the quartet, including apartments and houses, with the majority belonging to their Birgisson who resides in Los Angeles.
In other (happier) news, earlier today, the band announced that it would release a 20th-anniversay Ágætis byrjun box set on June 21st.