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26 April 2019 / article

Dutch opposition party announces initiative bill on Digital Services Tax

On 25 April 2019, the Dutch opposition party PvdA announced to publish an initiative bill to introduce a Digital Services Tax (DST), similar to initiatives in other EU jurisdictions and to the proposal the European Commission launched in March 2018 (the EU DST).

The DST is aimed at highly digitalized companies and intends to tax revenues, where it is perceived that profits of such companies would be insufficiently taxed. A motion by PvdA to instruct the government to implement a DST was rejected by a majority vote on the same day so it is highly uncertain whether an initiative bill would get sufficient support from other political parties.

Key features

The proposed DST would be a tax on revenues on certain types of digitalized activities. Such revenues would be taxed at a rate of 5%.

The scope of activities would focus on revenues earned through: (i) advertising on digital platforms, (ii) offering an online marketplace, (iii) (paid) streaming services and (iv) the monetization of user data.

The proposal further suggests to take into account avoidance of double taxation of digital services taxes amongst jurisdictions that introduced their own digital services taxes.

Comparison to other initiatives

The proposed rate of 5% is higher than the 3% rate proposed in the EU DST, and is also higher compared to for example France which adopted a 3% rate and the UK which announced a 2% rate. In addition, the provision of (paid) streaming services was excluded from the EU DST but is included in this DST proposal.

Feasibility

The EU DST has not been adopted due to push back from a number of EU jurisdictions, including the Netherlands. The Netherlands holds the view that a solution has to be found at a global (OECD) level. A number of Dutch political parties, including the largest government coalition party VVD, opposed the EU DST in the form it was initially introduced.

On 25 April 2019 the PvdA also submitted a motion to bind the Dutch government to work out a domestic DST. This motion was rejected by majority vote in the Lower House of Parliament. Given the Dutch position as regards the EU DST, as well as the rejection of the motion, it seems highly uncertain that the initiative bill will get sufficient support from other political parties.

Takeaways

The proposal intends to leverage on public perception on the taxation of digitalized companies to introduce a tax on revenues specifically aimed at digitalized companies. The proposal itself is generally in line with initiatives previously done at an EU level (although not adopted) and seen in other EU jurisdictions, with notable differences on the 5% rate and the inclusion of (paid) streaming services.

This proposal was made by an opposition party and a comparable motion to bind the government to work out such a proposal was rejected on the same day. It is therefore highly uncertain that this proposal will get sufficient support from other parties to move forward.



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