Margrethe Vestager, the EU competition commissioner, has indicated that in Belgium up to 90% of an international company’s tax bill can be reduced. Benefits of being an “international company” in Belgium has allowed tax rulings on schemes exempting “excess profit” in which research and development funds, economies of scale and intangible assets such as reputation can be made exempt from corporation tax. It remains to be seen how many and which companies using the scheme are going to be affected, the commission has not divulged any details in this respect. The world of tax forum shopping for companies seems to be getting smaller and smaller.
The EU’s probes have so far ensnared four multinationals in three European countries— Apple Inc. in Ireland, Amazon.com Inc. and Fiat SpA in Luxembourg and Starbucks Corp. in the Netherlands. If regulators’ suspicions are confirmed, the companies could face back-tax demands worth hundreds of millions of dollars. All companies have denied receiving special treatment.