Dutch media report: How the Netherlands became a tax haven

The Dutch newspaper NRC covers the announcement of an investigation by the European Commission into the tax arrangements of several multinationals including Apple with the headline “How the Netherlands became a tax haven”:

“European Commissioner Algirdas Semeta is sharply critical of tax havens such as the Netherlands. Last week he called tax policies which are favourable to multinationals “agressive” “short-sighted” and harmful to other members of the EU.”

The article then asks “How did we become a tax haven? and how does it work?”

“Tourists are attracted to the Netherlands with windmills and tulips. Multinationals with low taxes. A separate department of the Economic Ministry takes care of this: the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA). The organization, with 22 offices around the world, hunts for foreign companies.”

The article also looks into Dutch shell companies or “postbox companies”. According to the organization of trust firms Holland Quaestor, there are 23.500 of these companies in the Netherlands. “Eighty of the hundred largest companies in the world have registered a postbox company in the Netherlands to save taxes. These include Google, Starbucks, Microsoft, Ikea, Wal-Mart, Chevron, Samsung and Apple”.

The conclusion notes that “Other countries are trying the same trick as the Netherlands”, singling out the UK for trying to attract multinationals with glossy folders on its tax advantages.

The full NRC article is here (in Dutch, google-assisted translation).

A report in English by the Dutch not-for-profit organization SOMO which finds that “All the empirical evidence indicates that the Netherlands is a tax haven” can be found here.

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