Shell doesn't want to pay taxes in The Hague

The Dutch-British oil company Royal Dutch Shell has announced it will move its headquarters from The Hague to London and change its name to just Shell. The move is said to be prompted by the Netherlands' refusal to abolish taxes on dividends. The Dutch government has said it was "unpleasantly surprised" by the decision. Commentators take very different views on the subject.

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Handelsblatt (DE) /

Tax competition continues

Handelsblatt sees the move as a warning:

“It shows that the multinationals' international tax competition is far from over, even after the global agreement on a minimum tax for companies. Shell is the second company after Unilever to sacrifice its Dutch-British tradition and take up sole residence in London. The 15 percent withholding tax on dividends doesn't exist in the UK, and that played a decisive role here. The group's coffers are overflowing. ... To be able to return the idle capital to shareholders, Shell now wants to streamline its structure and pay taxes and dividends only in Britain.”

NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

This company is history

The Netherlands has no reason to weep over the loss of the multinational, NRC Handelsblad believes:

“A company that finds the tax climate more decisive than innovation, research, development or sophisticated operating procedures demonstrates its lack of ideas and entrepreneurial spirit. ... Panic would be justified in the case of chip machine maker ASML, for example. But not in the case of an oil company that over the next ten years will be mainly focused on ensuring that history doesn't catch up with it. ”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

No red carpet for oil companies anymore

The era of big oil is over, notes Volkskrant columnist Sheila Sitalsing:

“There was a time when Shell was the queen of the Dutch economy. ... It was the time before the lawsuits when judges did the unthinkable and held Shell partly responsible. For environmental destruction in the Niger Delta, for all the climate change. ... The [ruling party] VVD apparently made another desperate attempt on Sunday night to secure support for abolishing the dividend tax in order to keep Shell here. ... These are priorities from an era that is almost over.”

De Telegraaf (NL) /

A heavy blow for the welfare state

Large corporations bring prosperity and need reliable political backing, De Telegraaf complains:

“For years the story was that taxes [on dividends] would disappear, but in the end that wasn't the case. This corroborates the idea that Dutch politics has less and less sympathy for big companies, and that agreements are constantly being changed. Such a situation is bad for the business climate; big companies need stable rules. If stability is lacking, companies will leave, and with them jobs and investments. ... Without a healthy economy, our country cannot finance today's welfare state.”