MEPs grill Dutch finance minister over special tax schemes

Eric Wiebes dismisses Parliament's special tax committee accusations that the Netherlands is a tax haven.

By Linnea Richardson

04 Mar 2016

Dutch state secretary for finance Eric Wiebes has met with the European Parliament's special tax committee to discuss his country's tax policy priorities for the EU over the coming months. 

Wiebes outlined the EU's new roadmap on implementing global standards on corporate taxation, following the G20's agreement late last year of the OECD's action plan against base erosion and profit shifting. He also discussed plans to move forward on the European Commission's anti-tax avoidance package. 

Wiebes insisted that the Dutch EU Council presidency was looking to secure an agreement on the automatic exchange of information between tax authorities when EU economics and finance ministers' meet up later this month in Brussels. 


Wiebes also told MEPs that he hoped a political deal on the anti-tax avoidance directive would also be reached before the summer.

While MEPs welcomed the news, they also stressed the need to open up the work of the EU's code of conduct group on business taxation, which MEPs feel lacks transparency. Additionally, they demanded that Parliament's position on avoiding aggressive tax planning be respected. 

As the discussion turned to the issue of member state tax architecture, MEPs grilled Wiebes over his country's so-called 'patent box' special tax scheme which provides businesses with lower tax rates on revenue derived from intellectual property licensing. 

MEPs also slammed the Netherlands' decision to appeal the Commission's ruling on a competition case involving Starbucks. The Dutch granting of selective tax advantages to the US company was found to be in breach of EU state aid rules.

The committee also raised the issue of 'letterbox companies' - businesses set up in specific countries purely to benefit from lower tax rates. 

Portuguese GUE/NGL group member Marisa Matias accused the Netherlands of being a tax haven, but Wiebes refuted the claim, arguing that it was up to national authorities to tax any profits member states believed they were owed.


Read the most recent articles written by Linnea Richardson - 2017 EU General budget


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