Letterbox company debate is damaging Holland, says PwC

The ongoing discussion about shell companies is damaging the Netherlands’ reputation as a good location for business, Robert Swaak, chairman of the board at accountants group PwC, told the Financieele Dagblad on Saturday.

The idea that the Netherlands is a tax haven is ‘completely misplaced’, he said. ‘We do not have low corporation taxes, no special low tariffs, no banking secrecy and we are transparent towards foreign tax regimes.’

‘The 20,000 companies that everyone talks about are mainly holding companies and they should not be part of the discussion,’ he said.

Holding companies, Swaak said, are used to receive dividends from foreign subsidiaries which have already paid corporation taxes. ‘There is no question of avoiding taxes, but limiting double taxation. And everyone agrees double taxation … should be prevented.’


In addition, trust offices which manage these holding companies employ some 2,000 people, whose jobs would be hit if the Netherlands got tough on shell companies, Swaak said.

On Friday, Labour leader Diederik Samsom said he wanted to see letterbox companies tackled. ‘I don’t like the idea the Netherlands is a tax haven,’ he told a television interview show.

‘I think it is a bad idea to levy little tax on companies that don’t do anything here, but just move money along…We are going to tackle this, step by step.’

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