The Netherlands – home of US profits

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SOMO in the Netherlands has issued the following note in response to the Dutch furore at being described as a tax haven by the USA:

The White House press briefing announcing measures against tax avoidance and tax havens, published on 4 May 2009, originally contained the following sentence: ‚ÄòNearly one-third of all foreign profits reported by U.S. corporations in 2003 came from just three small, low-tax countries: Bermuda, the Netherlands, and Ireland.’ The sentence was included as a bullet point in the introduction. The next day, after efforts by the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Washington, this sentence was removed from the introduction of the briefing and explained as a misunderstanding. (See here) Earlier this month, the Dutch network Tax Justice NL published a comment on the matter .

We have now been able to identify the source of the information in the sentence, which was not mentioned in the White House document. The data on foreign profits of US corporations are based on tax returns filed by the corporations themselves, presented in a figure in a 2007 discussion paper by K.A. Clausing and R.S. Avi-Yonah. (See here , figure 2). Although the Netherlands may not qualify as a typical low-tax country (it has low effective tax rates for specific types of corporate financing activities only), the 2003 US tax return data show that foreign profits of US corporations in the Netherlands were almost 13% of the total. This puts the Netherlands in the first place for that year, before Ireland and Bermuda. So the figures themselves were not a misunderstanding, and they have been published before – only in a less politically sensitive context.

What this clearly shows is that the Dutch conform to another tax haven principle: always denying the truth.