From research that SOMO carried out on behalf of Oxfam Novib, it emerges that tax consultancy companies, the academic world and political committees are so intertwined with each other that, at the least, the suspicion of conflict of interests is very strong. This study is part of the Oxfam report ‘The Netherlands, tax haven’.

Tax consultancy companies, the academic world and political committees have, at the least, considerable sway in the creation of policy that is directly relevant to their commercial interests. Policy that keeps the tax burden for their clients (multinationals) low and allows international companies to profit from the ‘attractive Dutch fiscal environment’. It is precisely this conflict of interest which demands more transparency concerning the input from the sector and how this is – and already has been – incorporated into policy and legislation.

Close connections

On the instructions of Oxfam Novib, SOMO examined the ancillary functions of 289 tax specialists in the Netherlands. From this, it emerged that at universities, 17 professors are at the same time partners at one of the large tax consultancy companies, and another 23 partners are senior lecturers at universities. The tax consultancy companies are intertwined with politics. The chairmen of the tax working groups of the VVD and D’66 political parties, for example, are both partners at KPMG Meijburg & Co. The ties between tax consultancy companies and the university world are even closer, if you look at the institutes which concern themselves with the Dutch business climate and with international taxation planning by multinationals.

Pursuing a political agenda

Esmé Berkhout, taxation expert at Oxfam Novib and author of the report, calls it disappointing that the Nederlandse Orde van Belastingadviseurs (NOB – Dutch Association of Tax Advisors) is heavily committed to preserving the current tax incentives for multinationals. Thus, harmful tax competition is maintained, which primarily affects developing countries, she says in the Financieele Dagblad (Financial Daily).

Maurice de Kleer, Chairman of the Nederlandse Orde van Belastingadviseurs (NOB), says to the FD that he cannot agree with the picture sketched out, in which his professional association is pursuing a political agenda behind the scenes.

Read more

Read more about the Oxfam Novib report

Directly download the Oxfam report ‘Nederland Belastingparadijs, Leuker kunnen we het niet maken, wel eerlijker’ (The Netherlands, Tax Haven, We can’t make it nicer, but we can make it fairer’)

Read more reactions from FD-readers concerning the results of the Oxfam report.

Article in the newspaper NRC: The Netherlands offers the most possibilities for tax evasion in the EU.