Minister ready to get tough on shell companies, tax haven claims

The cabinet on Friday gave its approval to junior finance minister Menno Snel’s plan to crack down on the shell company industry in the Netherlands in line with international and EU agreements.

‘We are going to make serious work of tackling letter box firms,’ Snel said after the weekly cabinet meeting. ‘Only companies which actually bring jobs will be welcomed here with open arms.’

The measures, which were all outlined in the coalition agreement, include a commitment to bring in a tax on royalties from 2021. U2, the Rolling Stones and Starbucks are among the companies taking advantage of the Netherlands’s current zero tax rate on royalties.

The junior minister told radio station BNR that the ‘robust package’ of measures are aimed at giving a serious knock to the Netherlands’ reputation as a tax haven.

The Netherlands has been grappling with its image as a tax haven for several years and the new government has pledged to get tougher on shell companies.

Some 10,000 shell, or letter-box, companies are based in the Netherlands and are primarily used to shift corporate earnings and obscure ownership.