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The Netherlands' Council Presidency wants to make rapid progress on the implementation of the OECD action plan against corporate tax base erosion and profit shifting (anti-BEPS), the Dutch State Secretary responsible for Taxation Eric Wiebes told members of the Special Committee for Tax Rulings II on Monday in a hearing on the Dutch plans in the field of corporate taxation.

The state secretary also announced that the Council would work on a proposal against VAT-fraud, which - according to him - signifies a multiple of corporate tax fraud in Europe. Some MEPs were nonetheless unhappy with the lack of ambition shown by the state secretary who said he considers it "unproductive if the Dutch Presidency - instead of being an honest broker - is going to have all kind of opinions in this house on all sorts of things".

Mr Wiebes said he wants to reach an agreement on the automatic exchange of information between tax authorities in March and hopes to have a deal on the proposed anti-tax avoidance directive before the summer". He was less optimistic about the potential for reform of the Council's Code of Conduct Group for corporate taxation. "We discuss about transparency and the mandate, but this is a difficult issue for some member states", he explained.

Public country-by-country reporting

Asked whether he was in favour for public country-by-country reporting on profits made and taxes paid, as advocated by the Parliament, he said he was awaiting the outcome of the ongoing impact assessment by the Commission, adding that "the Netherlands are principally in favour, but would not push for it".

"Patent box constructions already dealt with"

Mr Wiebes countered criticism on alleged Dutch patent box constructions and ongoing practices in some member states, saying" this has already been dealt with". Referring to agreements in the OECD and the Council Working Group on corporate taxation, he said that "Member states have until the end of the year to align their practices with what has been agreed".

Members critical of the Netherlands

Members also quizzed the state secretary about the Starbucks state aid verdict by Competition Commissioner Vestager against which the Netherlands launched an appeal and the many post-box companies who pay their tax in the Netherlands. "Do you find it normal that the Netherlands collects profit taxes which should have been paid elsewhere? This is tax dumping, not tax competition", a Portuguese member said. "If Portugal thinks that certain tax revenues belong to Portugal because value is added in Portugal that is not a problem for us.But it is up to the Portuguese authorities to tax this", Mr Wiebes replied.

Next in TAXE II

The next hearings of the Special Committee on Tax rulings II on 15 and 15 March will be with representatives of a number of jurisdictions, including Andorra, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey, Liechtenstein and Monaco and with multinational companies.