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Netherlands; Bangladesh; Ghana; Philippines; Uganda; Zambia

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Netherlands government council agrees to combat international tax avoidance

On 30 August 2013, the Netherlands government council sent a letter to parliament on the combating of international tax avoidance based on research reports of the Economic Research Foundation (Stichting Economisch Onderzoek – SEO) and the International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation (IBFD).

The government council agreed on the following measures:

(a) General measures:

-   the substance requirements concerning the running of a real business risk and the effective managing of a company from the Netherlands will become applicable to more companies;
-   the Netherlands will inform a treaty partner if a company subsequently appears not to meet the substance requirements. Due to improved exchange of information with the source country, that treaty partner may then deny treaty benefits to that company;
-   the first two indents will also become applicable to financing companies which obtained certainty in advance through a ruling; and
-   advance ruling requests concerning holding companies, i.e. companies which obtain dividends from non-residents and pay dividends to non-residents, will only be dealt with by the tax authorities if the group to which the holding company belongs has a sufficient relationship with the Netherlands.

(b) Specific measures concerning low and middle-income countries:

-   the Netherlands will propose Zambia to renegotiate the Netherlands - Zambia Income Tax Treaty (1977) to include anti-abuse provisions. In addition, the Netherlands will approach 22 other low-income and low/middle-income countries to add anti-abuse provisions to the existing tax treaties to the extent desired. In the case of new tax treaties, the contracting states will carefully consider which anti-abuse provisions should be included in the treaty. Finally, pursuant to the IBFD research concerning possible abuse of the treaties with Bangladesh, Ghana, Philippines, Uganda and Zambia all other existing treaties with developing countries will be reviewed on unintended risks of tax avoidance; and
-   the Netherlands will grant technical support to strengthen the tax administrations of low and low/middle-income countries to increase tax collection, to reduce unnecessary tax exemptions and to combat tax evasion and tax avoidance. This support will be expanded to the extent necessary.

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