Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Dutch Cooperatives Provide Tax Planning Opportunities

Excerpt from Practical European Tax Strategies by Joseph B. Darby III, Thomas van der Vliet(Greenberg Traurig LLP) andShane Kigen (Ernst & Young)

There is a famous Dutch proverb that states, “The art is not in making money, but in keeping it.” To help achieve this laudable goal, the Dutch have thoughtfully provided a Dutch cooperative holding structure that allows multinational enterprises and private equity funds to keep a significantly greater after-tax share of the money they make.

Cooperatives have been a business form used in the Netherlands for well over a century. However, only recently have tax lawyers fully begun to exploit this distinctive vehicle in international tax planning. What makes a cooperative exciting to tax planners is its unique treatment under the Dutch dividend withholding tax. Unlike its close relatives, the Dutch private or public company (BV/NV), a cooperative is not subject to the 15 percent withholding tax on dividend distributions. The absence of a levy of dividend withholding tax makes the cooperative a logical choice as a holding company. In conjunction with the Netherlands’ extensive treaty network, a cooperative holding structure generally permits foreign members of a cooperative to repatriate profits free from Dutch withholding tax.

More on Legal Attributes of Dutch Cooperative

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