Maybe that billion-dollar reunion isn't looking like such a bad idea now.
Less than a year after being called out for owing almost $11.6 million in back taxes on song royalties between 1999 and 2003, based on contracts he signed in the 1970s, former ABBA singer Björn Ulvaeus is apparently in the hole with the Swedish Tax Authority once again.
This time authorities say that Ulvaeus owes another $2.1 million on earnings from 2004 and 2005, Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter reports.
Officials told the paper that Ulvaeus, who along with fellow band mates Benny Andersson, Agnetha Fältskog and Frida Lyngstad turned down an offer in 2000 to get back together for 100 concerts and a $1 billion paycheck, has been dodging the taxman for decades by failing to claim millions of dollars in royalties.
The rights to ABBA's sugary sweet yet undeniably catchy tunes, such as "Dancing Queen," "Mamma Mia" and "Waterloo," have been controlled by the Dutch company Fintage since 1990. Fintage then made an arrangement with a company called Stanova, which operates in the Netherlands Antilles, a Caribbean island group-cum-tax haven.
According to Dagens Nyheter, Stanova also happens to be indirectly owned by Ulvaeus, who, along with Andersson, produced ABBA's biggest hits and created the musicals Chess and Mamma Mia! The group has sold more than 370 million albums worldwide, despite not having performed together since 1982.
Tax Authority spokesman Victor Palm said that Ulvaeus has been "paying less tax than he should," and that the agency suspects that royalty payments for the singer-songwriter have been directed to Stanova so that Ulvaeus could catch a break, a tax structure the Authority does not approve of.
Incidentally, Swedish income taxes, at 30 to 55 percent, also happen to be among the highest in the world. (Neighbor Denmark has the slight edge, with 59 percent.)
Ulvaeus was able to get last year's $11.6 million ruling reduced to about $9.5 million, but the 61-year-old Stockholm resident is still waiting to hear about his appeal to throw out the lower sum, as well.