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  • European flags are seen outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels Sept. 10, 2014.

    European flags are seen outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels Sept. 10, 2014. | Photo: Reuters

Amongst the big companies using the Dutch tax evasion routes are a large number of arms manufacturers and major international defense companies.

The Netherlands is a top EU tax haven for corporations, according to a new analysis released on Monday by the U.K. based Aid Agency Oxfam.

The report, which evaluated EU member states on responsible tax governance, ranked the Netherlands as the worst in terms of indicators measuring harmful tax practices. 

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“It is ironic to have a country that is a top EU corporate tax haven leading the bloc’s discussions on anti-tax avoidance measures. The Netherlands must back away from policies which allow big companies to dodge taxes at the expense of other EU member states and developing countries,” Oxfam’s policy advisor on tax justice, Esmé Berkhout, said.

The study titled, “Study on Structures of Aggressive Tax Planning and Indicators”, found that the Netherlands is host to more than 14,000-money-channelling (conduit) companies, most of them letterbox firms, which are set up with the intention of circumventing legal and conventional obligations, such as taxes. 

“The amounts which international companies channel through these firms — up to US$3.9 trillion a year — are highly disproportionate to their economic activities in the country,” the Oxfam statement adds. 

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Oxfam slammed the Netherlands, which currently plays a crucial role in leading EU efforts against large-scale tax dodging, on it's loose approach to tax governance. The new findings come as EU finance ministers meet on Wednesday to discuss a European Anti-Tax Avoidance Directive. 

“The Dutch worst practice example must act as a reminder that strict rules preventing tax avoidance are vital.” The Aid agency added. 

However, an important aspect of the Dutch financial-political complex is to attract foreign capital through tax-breaks and subsidies, according to a separate report released in December by the Transnational Institute, TNI. 

Amongst the big companies using the Dutch tax evasion routes are a large number of arms manufacturers and major international defense companies. Of the first ten biggest arms companies seven have legal structures in the Netherlands, the TNI report concluded. 

 

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