Dutch lawmakers step up tax demands on multinationals

THE HAGUE (Reuters) – Dutch lawmakers have launched an inquiry into how to make multinationals pay their fair share of tax, after public criticism that government reforms do not go far enough.

Scores of multinationals use the Netherlands to pare their tax bills but the Dutch, who bore tax hikes after the financial crisis, are growing increasingly hostile to minimising company tax, which is legal and has gone unchallenged for decades.

Parliamentarians voted on Tuesday to establish an expert commission to examine how to make taxing multinationals “more fair” after Netherlands-based Shell recently acknowledged it had paid virtually no Dutch corporation tax in 2018. Royal Dutch Shell refused to release details of its unique advance tax ruling with the Dutch government at a recent hearing of a parliamentary panel on taxation.

“The Dutch people take note that one pays income tax when earning a minimum wage but some multinationals make (a) profit and pay no taxes,” Pieter Omtzigt, the Dutch Christian Democrat parliamentarian who instigated the vote, told Reuters.

Government data shows that more than 4 trillion euros ($4.5 trillion) of assets, more than four times the size of the Dutch economy, are parked with thousands of letter box companies in the Netherlands. Many are used to route profits to low-tax countries.

“During election times, parties committed to limit the flow. The government needs to deliver,” Omtzigt said.

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