“Dutch” coronavirus test maker Qiagen accused of tax avoidance
Coronavirus test producer Qiagen evaded millions of euros in taxes since 2010 through tax avoidance constructions in Ireland, Luxembourg and Malta, according to research by foundation SOMO. "To add insult to injury", the biotech giant, which on paper is based in Venlo in Limburg, is currently also receiving public financing on a large scale, SOMO said.
SOMO studied Qiagen's annual accounts. "The company has set up a network of letterbox companies in European tax havens including Ireland, Luxembourg and Malta in order to avoid tax through internal loans," the foundation said. SOMO estimates that the company avoided 93 million euros in taxes since 2010, and accumulated 49 million euros in tax deduction.
The researchers also found that the company, whose Covid-19 tests are currently being produced on a massive scale worldwide, received public funds from the Dutch and American governments, among others.
"The global healthcare sector is under enormous financial pressure due to the coronavirus crisis. It is distressing to see that precisely a company like Qiagen is avoiding tax on a large scale and depriving governments of much needed income," SOMO tax researcher Jasper van Teeffelen said.
SOMO called on the Netherlands and the European Union to introduce better rules against tax avoidance and impose stricter conditions on public funding.
On paper, Qiagen's head office is based in Venlo in Limburg, but it's operational headquarters are in Germany. Qiagen employs 5,200 people worldwide. Last year the company generated 1.3 billion euros in profits, according to SOMO. In the second quarter of 2020, during the height of the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, Qiagen posted a profit of 77 billion euros, double the amount made in the second quarter of 2019.