Brussels, 13 October 2022
MEPs on Thursday discussed the tax policies of the Netherlands with a member of the country’s government, quizzing him on what has worked and what is still needed.
The discussion with Marnix van Rij in the EP’s subcommittee on tax matters helped MEPs to assess the progress of national tax reforms in the Netherlands that aim at tackling aggressive tax schemes as well as identifying the remaining challenges. The discussion also addressed the Dutch government’s views on upcoming and ongoing initiatives at EU level such as the Unshell Directive, the minimum corporate tax rate, and the updates to the rules on exchange of information. MEPs also asked Mr van Rij about moving away from unanimity voting in tax matters, especially considering the abuse of the unanimity rule by countries such as Hungary.
You can watch the meeting again here.
The Netherlands is changing tack
Mr van Rij explained that the Netherlands was already reaping some rewards from its efforts to transition away from the tax haven-like country it was sometimes associated with. Flows of money to low tax jurisdictions had fallen sharply for example, he said. He added that in the light of changed attitudes among the public over the last 10 years, the Netherlands was moving away from the approach favouring tax competition towards one based on international cooperation and cooperation within the EU. The Netherlands was supporting the proposed EU legislation, such as the Unshell directive, and considered that the use of majority voting or enhanced cooperation in tax matters should be considered when unanimity did not work, Mr van Rij added.
Tax competition inside the EU not the solution
Despite being specifically asked if some tax competition is not a necessary feature inside the EU, Mr van Rij replied that tax harmonisation based around a minimum tax is what would actually facilitate life the most, both for tax administrations and for companies. The EU countries should not be basing their FDI attractiveness on a tax race to the bottom that only harms everyone, he said.
This meeting follows up on a hearing on the tax policies and structures in the Netherlands, held in March 2022. A summary of the outcome of that hearing can be found here.