Microsoft, Pfizer sweetheart tax deals under investigation

After declaring the sweetheart tax deal between the Netherlands and Starbucks illegal two weeks ago, the European Commission is now looking into deals the Dutch tax authorities made with Microsoft, Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline and Kraft Foods.

Multiple sources told newspaper Trouw that the European Commission has requested the tax agreements made between the Netherlands and these multinationals.

According to the newspaper, the tax authorities gave these multinationals assurance with so-called tax rulings about the way in which they have to pay taxes in the Netherlands. These rulings are in themselves not illegal, but are facing an increasing amount of criticism as they would allow multinationals to shift their profits around the world so that they pay very little tax in practice.

The European Commission would not confirm how many tax agreements with the Dutch tax authorities they are examining. A spokesperson did say to the newspaper that they have requested a total of some 300 tax agreements between  companies and 23 EU Member States. "Requesting the rulings does not automatically mean that it will turn into an official investigation in the context of state aid", the spokesperson said.