Double Dutch? Cracking down on tax shopping in the Netherlands

Wednesday, April 10, 2013 - 11:23

The Netherlands is world famous for bicycles, windmills and tulips, but there is more to this tiny country – its role in the world of tax avoidance is huge!

Multi-nationals are cunningly making use of the beneficial tax rules the Netherlands offers to them. By opening mailbox companies in the Netherlands, they can make use of the country’s huge network of bilateral tax treaties.  

In fact, the Netherlands has one of the largest networks of bilateral tax treaties in the world, encompassing more than 90 treaties and counting

This network includes treaties with many developing countries.

No wonder then that more than 23,000 mailbox companies are registered in the Netherlands, including mailboxes of 91 of the top 100 biggest international companies.

But this controversial tax avoidance facilitating role of the Netherlands might be about to end!

Consistent pressure by the Tax Justice Network, which includes ActionAid, has created a situation in which the Dutch government can no longer deny that they are part of the international problem. And believe me, they have tried!

In January a motion was adopted by parliament that stated that the Netherlands is not a tax haven.

But luckily the Tax Justice Network in the Netherlands can count on the support of a number of political parties.

Yesterday marked an important day in this struggle. A motion calling for action from the government to end tax avoidance by multinational companies via the Netherlands was adopted by the Parliament. In June, the government will have to present an action plan that step by step ends this tax injustice.

We’re very pleased with the adoption of this motion and the sudden change of the Parliament’s position but want to see real change. Will the government’s action plan really crack down on company’s attempts to avoid tax?

This we don’t know for sure, but we’ll be pushing hard for an action plan that tackles the causes of the problem once and for all.