Netherlands: the Government Appeals the EU Decision on Starbucks’ APA

By Robert Robillard - 30 November 2015

This blogpost originally appeared on

We all remember these two recent decisions of the EU: Commission decides selective tax advantages for Fiat in Luxembourg and Starbucks in the Netherlands are illegal under EU state aid rules.

Both EU decisions are available here.

In the case of the Netherlands, it was alleged that an Advance Pricing Agreement (APA) based on the arm’s length principle was “illegal”.

Push-back from the Netherlands and Luxembourg was immediate.

Things may now become even more BEPS-tacular on this one since on November 27th, the Dutch Cabinet officially stated:

“Government appeals the decision in the Starbucks case

The Netherlands stays committed to fight tax avoidance

In October the European Commission has decided that the Netherlands provided State aid to Starbucks Manufacturing. The Commission decision is placed in the context of the fight against tax avoidance by multinationals. The government supports this fight, both in a European and OECD context. The Netherlands wants to make international agreements in order to counter tax avoidance by increasing transparency and aligning different national systems in a better way.

The Dutch government greatly values its practice of offering certainty in advance. The Dutch practice is lawful and compliant with the international system of the OECD. However the European Commission’s verdict in the Starbucks case deviates from national law and the OECD’s system. In the end this will cause a lot of uncertainty about how to enforce regulations.

In order to get certainty and case law on the application of certainty in advance by way of rulings, the government appeals the Commission decision in the Starbucks case. The government is of the opinion that the Commission does not convincingly demonstrate that the Tax Authority deviated from the statutory provisions. It follows that there is no State aid involved.”

This might get really interesting…

Robert Robillard, Ph.D., CPA, CGA, Adm.A., MBA, M.Sc. Econ., M.A.P.
Senior Partner, RBRT Inc.
514-742-8086; robertrobillard “at”

The convergence of RBRT’s tax, accounting and economics expertise makes a difference. The information in this blog post is general information only. Data and information come from sources believed to be reliable but complete accuracy cannot be guaranteed. RBRT Inc. or the author are not responsible or liable for any error, omission or inaccuracy in such information. The opinions expressed in this blogpost are those of the author. Readers should seek advice and counsel from RBRT Inc. as required.