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'Investigation of state aid Nike highlights need for transparency in tax rulings'

The European Commission has started an investigation into possible illegal state aid from the Netherlands to Nike. It is high time that agreements between Tax Authorities and multinationals are made public, says Associate Professor in Tax Law Jan Vleggeert.

Jan Vleggeert

The investigation concerns agreements which the Dutch Tax Authorities had made with the American sportswear manufacturer which has a European base in Hilversum. As a result of the agreements, Nike would pay insufficient tax which is not permitted according to European legislation. A comparable investigation is also being carried out concerning agreements between Ikea and the Dutch Tax Authorities. The Netherlands has already been reprimanded for state aid to American coffee giant Starbucks.

Vleggeert discussed the investigation in the Dutch newspapers Financieele Dagblad (€) and Trouw. 'It is painful that this is now the third investigation concerning the Netherlands', says Vleggeert, who believes that all agreements between Tax Authorities and companies should be made public in anonymous form.' In that way, specialists and investigative journalists can check whether the tax rules have been applied correctly. Now we depend on the Commission to uncover the facts.'

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