Monday 28 September 2020

Cabinet to reconsider scrapping dividend tax after Unilever pullout

The cabinet is to reconsider the controversial plans to scrap the tax on dividends, prime minister Mark Rutte said at his weekly press conference on Friday.

The decision follows Unilever’s announcement that it will no longer be consolidating its headquarter operations in Rotterdam, after pressure from shareholders.

Describing Unilever’s decision as ‘disappointing’, Rutte said: ‘We did not take this measure just for one company. But Unilever’s decision today should, of course, be taken into account, and that is a reason to agree to look again.’

The cabinet will now re-evaluate the entire corporate tax plan, a process which will take several weeks, he said.

Rutte had constantly defended the controversial decision to drop the tax, saying it is crucial to keep several multinationals in the Netherlands and to make the Netherlands a more attractive place to do business.

But the cabinet itself was divided, with only the Christian Democrats fully supporting the tax measure, and the opposition united against it.

Unilever CEO Paul Polman told reporters on Friday that the public debate about the controversial measure had an impact on British shareholders.

‘The political discussion in the Netherlands about … the dividend tax has been a factor in some shareholders’ decisions not to support the [Unilever] board proposal,’ he is quoted as saying by broadcaster NOS.

Rutte declined to comment on Polman’s statement, saying that it is ‘up to him’.

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