Dutch tax authorities allowed celebrities to use the Netherlands as tax haven for decades
Dozens of well-known artists who sold millions of records and CDs were able to avoid taxes in their home country through the Netherlands for decades, Follow the Money reported. Foreign authorities tried to take action several times but the Dutch authorities watched and approved.
Bands, such as AC/DC, the Rolling Stones, ABBA and U2 have their music rights in the Netherlands. Follow the Money uncovered this by digging deep into the website discogs.com which contains extensive artist discographies.
Other artists that had their music rights in the Netherlands were Julio Iglesias, Robert Palmer, Eurythmics, Placido Domingo, Riccardo Cocciante, Vaya Con Dios and Giorgio Moroder. In total, around 50 artists and bands used the Netherlands to avoid taxes.
They used the so-called ‘Antilles Route’, a well-known tax avoidance construction that existed until 2006. These constructions were set up by trust offices, a controversial industry. Minister of Finance Wopke Hoekstra has been considering banning trust offices because many operate under the radar.
A number of artists also had a company on Curacao. “Curacao hardly levies any taxes and has virtually no tax treaty with any country”, Follow the Money wrote. “As a result, other countries levied taxes in advance when a person funneled money to Curacao. This could be circumvented by sending money to the Netherlands first.”
Contrary to Curacao, the Netherlands has a tax agreement with nearly every country. Legal persons could, thus, first funnel money to the Netherlands under favorable conditions and then, send it to the Antilles without extra fees.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times.