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Multinationals, and French state companies, use Dutch tax deals (update)

Wednesday 23 January 2013

The biggest 100 multinationals in the world pushed at least €57bn through the Netherlands using Dutch tax deals in 2011, the Volkskrant reports on Wednesday.

Google, IBM and Italian oil and gas group ENI head the list of companies using letter box companies and advance rulings to cut their Dutch tax bills to between 0 and 5%, the Volkskrant says.

According to the Financieele Dagblad on Wednesday, French state companies are among those using the Netherlands to cut their tax bills.

Energy firms EDF and GDF Suez, defence giant Thales and water firm Veolia are among those which have recently set up financial holding companies in the Netherlands, the paper says. The French state has a considerable shareholding in all four companies.

EDF, for example, has three Dutch holding companies which 'own' its interests in two Polish power stations. The Netherlands does not charge the  French firm any tax on its Polish dividends, which in France would be taxed at 5%.


The letterbox system allows multinationals and bands like U2 to cut hundreds of millions of euros from their tax bills.

The issue hit the headlines last November when it emerged US coffee giant Starbucks has paid just £8.6m tax in Britain after 14 years of trading.

British MPs are angry Starbucks UK pays a 4.7% fee to the coffee giant's Dutch arm for the right to use its branding and coffee recipe. The fee reduces its UK tax bill.


Junior finance minister Frans Weekers told parliament on Wednesday the Netherlands is not a tax haven. While multinationals do locate in the Netherlands to reduce taxes, they still pay corporate taxes over their profits in the Netherlands, he said.

Nevertheless, multinationals are welcome as long as they are more than a simple letterbox and carry out real activities and create real jobs, the Volkskrant quoted Weekers as saying.

Earlier stories
Tax deals for letter box firms under fire, MPs demand change
Starbucks under fire in Britain over Dutch tax deal
EU wants an end to letterbox companies
Letterbox companies largely exempt from tougher rules
The Netherlands is a popular tax haven for FTSE 100 firms
Holland no longer a US tax haven
More tax levied over tax haven income

© DutchNews.nl


Readers' Comments

Hypocritical French government. They aren't happy that companies such as amazon or Starbucks are based elsewhere to evade French taxes and want to make new laws about it, yet the state owned companies are pretty much doing the same thing as the companies they vilify!

By Sedirea | 23 January 2013 11:33 AM

Let's not make them sound like drug dealers, pushing their ill gotten gains through NL. If we estimate total NL GDP (2011) at around 625 million euros that would suggest a lot of tax efficency taking place. Just an observation, I'm glad they take it so seriously, really I am. Now how do we get ourselves a Jamie deal?

By Dr Ponzi | 23 January 2013 2:01 PM

Just keep sucking the middle classes dry.

By kees | 24 January 2013 2:22 AM

If companies pay less tax, they will pass some benefits to the consumers or people. If the gov collects more tax, they will usually not pass the benefits to the people. A low tax regime is what other countries should aspire to cos it creates employment, enhance economic activities and force the gov to stay lean. Austerity should also apply to the government.

By ufo | 24 January 2013 8:52 AM

I doubt that ufo, the only people profiting are the stakeholders.

By pepe | 25 January 2013 8:27 AM

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