Dutch companies currently owe the tax office some €1bn in unpaid taxes because they are in financial difficulty, the Financieele Dagblad says on Thursday.
The companies are making use of a special ruling introduced in 2009 and continued since then which allows them to delay payments, the paper says.
The tax office annual report shows the amount of unpaid tax had reached €630m by the end of 2011. The totals have not been recorded since then but the paper estimates that if a similar number of firms apply for the exemption, the debt has now reached €1bn.
Curators of companies which have gone bankrupt have doubts about the system.
For example, if the firm does go under, the tax office will miss out on payments. Secondly, companies which do pay their taxes on time are at a disadvantage and there is a danger of unfair competition, the curators say.
Socialist MP Arnold Merkies said he is concerned the tax office does not know how many companies have been given an extended deadline to pay tax or the total amount it is owed.
‘It would appear the tax office does not know what is going on in its own processes,’ he told the FD.
There is also confusion about the guarantees companies are offering the tax office in return for the delay. In several cases, property has been used as a surety which does not equal the value of the debt or which has other claims against it, the paper says.
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