Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Dutch lawmakers fed up about Netherlands role as a $13 trillion tax haven

Jesse Drucker has another in-depth exposé of the Netherlands' shady role in helping many large multinationals avoid tax, free-riding on the benefits of societies elsewhere and then sticking everyone else with the bill.

It's an excellent story, and it's great to see that quite a lot of people in the Netherlands are ashamed of the role their country is playing.
"The Netherlands’ role as a $13 trillion relay station on the global tax-avoiding network is prompting a backlash. The Dutch Parliament is scheduled to debate the fairness of its tax system today. Lawmakers from several parties, including members of the country’s governing coalition, say they want to remove a stain on the nation’s reputation.

“We should not be a tax haven,” said Ed Groot, a parliament member from the Labour Party, which along with the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy took power in November. Both ruling parties are “fed up with these so called PO Box companies,” he said. “If they go somewhere else we are not sorry at all because they spoil the name of Holland. Otherwise you can wait for retaliation measures and this we don’t want.
. . .
“Governments around the world have to cut budgets and at the same time multinational companies are avoiding taxes,” said Arnold Merkies, a Dutch parliament member from the Socialist Party. . . . we connect the tax havens here; we have a harmful role in the world and have a responsibility toward the rest of the world.””
Very wise, very accurate, and very welcome, words. The Netherlands is harming developed and developing countries alike with its beggar-my-neighbour tax strategies. Last month, the European Commission declared war on tax avoidance and evasion, which it said costs the EU 1 trillion euros a year and advised member states -- including the Netherlands -- to create tax-haven blacklists and adopt anti-abuse rules.

The story contains much, more on this topic, among other things looking at Yahoo!'s tax strategies, and noting the purchase of one of these pernicious Dutch tax-dodge trust companies by the New York private equity giant Blackstone. (As if private equity companies aren't already aggressive enough on tax dodging: now they want to help others get in on the game too.)
    
More research on the Netherlands' role as a tax haven can be found here from our Dutch colleagues Somo.

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