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Abba 'looked nuts' on stage to avoid tax

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Abba 'looked nuts' on stage to avoid tax
Spandex and dubious one-pieces in 1980. File photo: TT
09:50 CET+01:00
Abba has pulled the sequined rug from under its fantastic stage outfits, with Björn Ulvaeus confessing that they were designed to fend off the Swedish taxman.

"In my honest opinion we looked like nuts in those years," Björn Ulvaeus said in the new publication Abba: The Official Photo Book. "Nobody can have been as badly dressed on stage as we were."

The reason for all that glitter, Ulvaeus said, was to keep the Swedish tax authorities (Skatteverket) at bay, as stage clothes need not to be wearable in everyday life.

IN PICTURES: Abba's stage outfits over the years

While Ulvaeus was referring to spandex and satin in the 1970s and 80s, the Swedish tax code has changed little. One of Sweden's Nordic Noir personalities, crime thriller writer Camila Läckberg, as late as last year had her knuckles rapped for trying to pass off normal fashion as work wear in her tax returns.

"It should be fantasy clothes, pure stage clothes, clothes with the employer's name or logo, or other attributes that make them clearly distinguishable from ordinary garments," Sweden's Tax Agency (Skatteverket) said in an official statement about Läckberg's outfits from Zara, Karen Millen, and Hope.

ALSO IN PICTURES: Abba through the years

In order for a business owner to get money back on taxes for clothes purchases, the official verdict stated, it was not enough that a dress or a blouse makes it into one of the many public events or television shows in which Läckberg has participated.

VIDEO: Swedes sing their favourite Abba songs with The Local reporter Oliver Gee

Nor have Swedish celebrities escaped the eye of the taxman in other matters either. In fact, Ulvaeus himself at one point was accused of not paying taxes to the tune of 85 million kronor ($13.2 million) between 1999 and 2000. He went on to successfully appeal the claim.

Joey Tempest, of Europe and Final Countdown fame, was also pulled into a quagmire of tax evasion claims. Most notoriously, however, legendary film maker Ingmar Bergman left Sweden after being accused of tax crimes in 1976.

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