Tax and Customs Administration can improve quality of ruling files
Audit of measures to prevent tax avoidance
The Netherlands Court of Audit has found that 58 rulings issued by the Tax and Customs Administration in 2018 complied with the applicable rules, barring a limited number of exceptions. This finding is consistent with that of a pervious audit of tax rulings in 2014. Tax rulings provide companies with assurance on the corporation tax and/or dividend tax they pay. The Court of Audit also concluded from its audit of measures to prevent tax avoidance that the quality of the ruling files was open to improvement.
International companies in particular seek assurances on the taxation of their activities. According to the Tax and Customs Administration, a total of 720 Advance Tax Rulings (ATRs), Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs) and other international rulings were issued in 2018.
There are doubts about the correct application of the regulations in one of the 58 ruling cases we audited. The Administration could not dispel these doubts despite the explanation it provided. The Court made a number of specific comments on three other rulings where the files were incomplete or poorly documented.
Given the importance of rulings to both the companies and the Tax and Customs Administration, the Court of Audit believes measures should be taken to improve the quality of the files. It currently cannot be determined whether a ruling request was assessed correctly or whether a reliable second opinion was sought.
Uncertain effect of anti-avoidance provisions
The Court of Audit found that the Ministry of Finance has not yet carried out policy evaluations of the provisions to prevent the avoidance of corporation tax and dividend tax. Furthermore, parliament is not informed of the financial importance of the individual anti-avoidance provisions. The Court of Audit recommends that the State Secretary for Finance – Tax Affairs and Tax Administration map out the effect of the measures. In his response to the audit, the State Secretary agreed with our recommendations and undertook to consult us to discuss improvements in the effectiveness of anti-avoidance provisions.
The letter is only available in Dutch.