(Sept 5th) Google, Starbucks and Ikea have turned down an invitation from the Dutch parliament’s Lower Chamber (Tweede Kamer) to attend a hearing on tax evasion planned for next Thursday. Without giving any reasons, the three companies informed the parliamentary office over the phone that they would not attend.
Promogroep, the office that assists the Rolling Stones with their tax issues in the Netherlands, did not respond to the invitation.
Starbucks and Ikea have “postbox companies” in the Netherlands through which they reduce their tax bills. Ikea also has a foundation in the Netherlands through which it has channeled its trademarks; its stores outside the Netherlands have to pay the foundation for using the trademarks and therefore can pay less tax in those other countries.
Starbucks has also registered its logo in the Netherlands to pay less tax in the UK. In a response to de Volkskrant newspaper, Starbucks said that it has 220 staff in the Netherlands who roast coffee and work on the design of stores. “We therefore see no reason for a broader discussion on tax” said a representative. Ikea had no reaction.
The Netherlands is an important hub in the global tax system, and hundreds of billions in tax funds flow through the country each year. By channeling royalties and other costs through the Netherlands, multinationals reduce their tax bills substantially. Governments in other countries lose hundreds of millions of euros in income due to these fiscal tricks.
Full article is in de Volkskrant in Dutch, translation for this summary based on Google.