It seems the Swedish tax code is similar to that of the UK when it comes to claiming tax relief for clothing. To ensure that their stage outfits were allowable deductions the costumes had to be so outrageous that they couldn't be worn on the street. Apparently many Swedish bands made as habit of dressing as flamboyantly as possible.
Reflecting on the group's sartorial record in a new book, Björn Ulvaeus said: "In my honest opinion we looked like nuts in those years. Nobody can have been as badly dressed on stage as we were."
Clearly Bjorn has forgotten about the British glam rockers of the 1970s - many of whom wore equally outrageous outfits. I'm thinking of the Sweet, T-Rex, Slade - there are many such examples from my youth. Who'd have thought they chose their outfits to avoid tax?!
And, even though this is my 'lighter side' blog, I should stress two points:
- I doubt that the facility to deduct the cost of stage costumes from their earnings was uppermost in many minds at the time - other than perhaps that of Abba.
- Why are the media reporting this as tax avoidance anyway? All the band did was to ensure that there could be no argument that their stage clothes qualified for tax relief. Any sensible person does the same thing as regards all genuine business expenses.