Introduction

On 19 September the Dutch State Secretary for Finance Mr Wiebes responded to the release of the 2014 interim reports on the OECD BEPS project. The Netherlands underlines the importance of the initial results of the BEPS project and is one of the forerunners in the international cooperation against tax avoidance.

Wiebes emphasised that international tax evasion and tax avoidance can only be solved with international cooperation. “Businesses that operate internationally and other investors in particular make use of differences between national tax rules.” Unilateral measures will actually increase these differences, instead of dealing with them effectively. “This is why the Netherlands is actively attempting to solve this problem in international cooperation,” explained Wiebes. The Netherlands has chosen three fronts for its offensive.

Continue the BEPS project

Continue the international cooperation in the BEPS project. State Secretary Wiebes emphasised that next year the participating countries will have to work particularly hard. “International dialogue has really got off the ground, but a lot of elaboration is still needed. The Netherlands is taking great care to avoid the fragmentation of measures. In the end, the measures will have to be amenable to implementation and properly harmonised with one another.” It also means that countries will first have to enter into agreements about coordinated implementation. “If everyone were to "go it alone", it would remain a never-ending story. This is why the Netherlands will not be taking any unilateral measures.”

Improve the exchange of fiscal data

The Netherlands is among the leaders when it comes to countries that focus on the improvement of international tax transparency and the exchange of information. Together with the member countries of the OECD, the EU member states and the G20 countries, the Netherlands has been intensively involved in the design of this new global standard for automatic exchanges of financial data right from the very beginning. This standard has now been accepted by more than sixty countries, and the countries in the Early Adopters Group will implement the standard within the near future. The Netherlands is one of these leading countries.

Renewing the Dutch treaty network

The Netherlands attaches importance to good relations with its tax treaty partners, and for this reason treaties are already continually updated. The Netherlands has even further stepped up the pace and is actively renewing and modernizing its tax treaty network. Wiebes stated “We are currently revising more than a quarter of our treaty network, together with our treaty partners. We will take advantage of the opportunity of countering the abuse of treaties.” In a phased plan, the Ministry of Finance is examining treaties and taking measures to avoid treaty abuse. This is something that had already been proposed in the Tax Treaty Policy Memorandum 2011.

Last year the Netherlands began revising its treaty relationships with twenty-three developing countries. Discussions are also currently being held with other countries within the regular (re-) negotiating programme.

“The Netherlands has one of the best tax treaty networks in the world. These efforts will ensure that the treaty network is future-proof. And the treaty network will remain a mainstay of the fiscal investment climate, and citizens and businesses alike will be able to reap the benefits”.
All these changes are being carried out in close consultation with the relevant treaty partners to ensure that careful consideration can be given to the anti-abuse provisions to be incorporated in the treaties. This approach is resulting in the accelerated modernization of approximately one-quarter of the treaty network.

Overview of current Dutch tax treaties under review / negotiation

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