Tax Avoidance – the usage of tax regimes around the world to lower the tax burden – is booming as much as it meets criticism. There have been hints to the amount of companies that use such practices, and educated guesses to the amount of money concerned. Some specific cases of tax avoidance by major corporations (Apple, Starbucks) and bands (U2, Rolling Stones) have also been made public.
But clearly there was, and still is, much need for a better understanding of the scale and practice of tax avoidance by (major) corporations. In recent months de Volkskrant has tried to shed light on the issue.
First we investigated the practices of the hundred largest companies of the world in the Netherlands, a major hub for transfers of money within corporations. We showed how these companies funnel at least 57 billion euro’s through the Netherlands, in a way that taxation is avoided. THE NEWS> THE STORY>
Second, we examined how these practices relate to a major current issue. We discovered how many of the biggest companies of four Southern European countries – members of the EU that are in deep financial crises – are using the Netherlands to avoid taxes. THE NEWS>
Third, we gave insight into the major tax havens of the world. By investigating the presence of major Dutch companies on the nine tax free countries of the world, we showed exactly how widespread the practice of tax avoidance by Dutch companies is. THE NEWS>
Fourth, we looked at a specific case of tax avoidance to give an understanding of how tax avoidance works in practice. We looked at Shell, one of the worlds largest companies, and focused on Shell’s tax avoidance methods in Bermuda. This gave us the possibility to give the reader insight both in how a tax haven works (Bermuda) and how bussinesses use these tax havens (Shell). THE STORY>
Fifth, we shed some much needed light on the industry that facilitates tax avoidance in the Netherlands. Which companies are envolved and how many jobs do they create? THE STORY>
Taken together these works of data- and investigative journalism have helped to shed much needed light on tax avoidance, one of the major societal issues of recent time.