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The Dutch tax authority signed tax agreements with 539 companies in 2016, almost 100 fewer than in 2015, Secretary of State for Finance Eric Wiebes has revealed.
Wiebes informed parliament in a letter presented on April 14 that the 539 tax agreements concluded last year consisted of 348 advanced tax rulings (ATRs) and 191 advanced pricing agreements (APAs). However, the figure was significantly lower that the 642 rulings that were agreed between the tax authority and taxpayers in 2015, made up of 406 ATRs and 236 APAs.
The information presented by Wiebes showed tax ruling statistics dating back to 2010, during which time the total number of agreements peaked in 2012 at 715, including 468 ATRs and 247 APAs.
The number of ATRs has declined every year since 2012, with the number of APAs falling each year except 2015.
The spotlight has been shone on so-called tax authority "comfort letters," which usually provide assurances to taxpayers on uncertain tax positions, after the European Commission accused several member states, including the Netherlands, of providing favorable treatment to certain multinational companies in defiance of EU state aid rules.
Following an investigation, the Commission in October 2015 decided that a ruling provided by the Netherlands to Starbucks did not reflect economic reality and granted a selective advantage to company in breach of EU law.
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