Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Bloomberg: Yahoo, Dell Swell Netherlands’ $13 Trillion Tax Haven, by Jesse Drucker:
Inside Reindert Dooves’ home, a 17th century, three-story converted warehouse along the Zaan canal in suburban Amsterdam, a 21st-century Internet giant is avoiding taxes.
The bookkeeper’s home office doubles as the headquarters for a Yahoo! offshore unit. Through this sun-filled, white walled room, Yahoo has taken advantage of the law to quietly funnel hundreds of millions of dollars in global profits to island subsidiaries, cutting its worldwide tax bill.
The Yahoo arrangement illustrates that the Netherlands, in the heart of a continent better known for social welfare than corporate welfare, has emerged as one of the most important tax havens for multinational companies. Now, as a deficit-strapped Europe raises retirement ages and taxes on the working class, the Netherlands’ role as a $13 trillion relay station on the global tax-avoiding network is prompting a backlash.
The Dutch Parliament is scheduled to debate the fairness of its tax system today. Lawmakers from several parties, including members of the country’s governing coalition, say they want to remove a stain on the nation’s reputation. ...
Attracted by the Netherlands’ lenient policies and extensive network of tax treaties, companies such as Yahoo, Google, Merck and Dell have moved profits through the country. Using techniques with nicknames such as the “Dutch Sandwich,” multinational companies routed 10.2 trillion euros in 2010 through 14,300 Dutch “special financial units,” according to the Dutch Central Bank. Such units often only exist on paper, as is allowed by law. ...
Profit shifting into tax havens by corporations costs the U.S. $90 billion a year, according to Kimberly Clausing, an economics professor at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. The U.S. faces a projected budget deficit of almost $1 trillion in fiscal 2013. [A Challenging Time for International Tax Policy, 136 Tax Notes 281 (July 16, 2012).]