Outrageous Outfits

Friday, February 21st, 2014

When personal income tax rates were higher, executive compensation came in the form of lavish perks, which weren’t taxed. Now Swedish pop sensation Abba admits that its outrageous outfits were part of its tax strategy:

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.”


According to Abba: The Official Photo Book, published to mark 40 years since they won Eurovision with Waterloo, the band’s style was influenced in part by laws that allowed the cost of outfits to be deducted against tax – so long as the costumes were so outrageous they could not possibly be worn on the street.

I suspect that British tax law at the time was rather similar:

Elton John in Feather Outfit

(Hat tip to Tyler Cowen.)


  1. Marc Pisco says:

    Mistook those pictures for the Macedonian army for a moment.

    Well, you know what they say…

  2. Toddy Cat says:

    No wonder the Persians ran.

    But in all seriousness, back in the 1970′s those chicks in ABBA were seriously hot. Happy days, happy days…

  3. Bruce says:

    I’d sure rather see microskirts on the street and screen than baggy dungarees on the street and Miley Cyrus cooch-dancing with a wrecking ball onscreen.

  4. Toddy Cat says:

    Agreed. Abba actually sounds pretty good today, and Hell, the GUYS in ABBA are sexier and more feminine than Miley Cyrus. Low bar to clear and all, but still.

  5. James James says:

    Allowances for work expenses are a sensible part of any income tax regime. E.g. Waiters pay for their uniforms out of pre-tax salary.

    Perks like company cars used to be much more common in the UK, because they could be counted as business expenses even when they weren’t. That’s not allowed now, so people are paid mileage expenses instead – a better system.

  6. Victor says:

    What about Elvis and his jumpsuits? Could onstage attire be deducted as a work related expense?

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