De Gron Amsterdam – A cheap journey


Sydney Airport, Australia


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James D. Morgan / Getty Images

The car is untouchable in Australia. Wide roads, almost no cyclists, parking lots and excellent roads. The continent-sized country is fully equipped for the car. On the Sydney virtual map, the Uber driver’s point closes in no time. This summer evening, Boarding Point, is Sydney’s famous city center. Uber cars in Australia are mostly white toyotas, the drivers are mostly sons of immigrants from the west of the city, where average incomes are significantly lower than in residential areas of the Pacific Ocean. .

During the drive to the Newtown student district, the sea breeze passes through the open window. A view of the bay appears from the road in which Sydney is hidden. The major public transport ghats in the city are separated by water. The briefly pictured Harbor Bridge was completed in 1932 after a huge government investment, which was not paid for until 50 years later. In the early 1990s, the city built another tunnel under the port for around seven hundred million dollars. The lights of Sydney Cricket Ground burn above the trees, a sacred ground for Australian sports fans. The stadium is publicly owned.

Uber Driver Park at the start of King St., Newtown’s bustling nightlife street, in the shadow of the University of Sydney towers, where the city is training its next generation of doctors, artists and lawyers . It is not necessary to pay with the driver: payment is made automatically by credit card. The driver says goodbye. Thank you my friend.

Part of the latter, which costs AU $ 35, is on behalf of Uber NL Holdings 1 BV, with 30% going directly to the Australian driver. Dutch Holding, which includes at least fifty other Uber BVs, is central to the financial system of the taxi and food delivery business, according to the study. ‘Taken for a ride’ DAT D Australasian NGO Center for International Corporate Tax Responsibility and Research (Cictar) for fnv Exposed. Uber’s global business (excluding China and US) ends on this Dutch BV, a total of $ 5.8 billion in 2019, while losing $ 4.5 billion on paper at the same time. The result: Uber pays little or no income tax in all of the countries where it works.

Jason Ward concludes: “It’s a defense against the Champions League tax.” Cictar. “Everything is legal and completely rich at the same time.” Because whether it’s an expensive bridge or tunnel in Sydney, or a traffic light and traffic police in Calcutta, he doesn’t pay a dime for the infrastructure that his drivers taxi drivers and their food vendors use as they please.

“ Everything is legal and completely rich at the same time ”

“This means that old start-ups and in particular large international technology companies pay less tax for such ethically malleable constructions,” explains Arjan Lejour, professor of taxation and public finance at Tiller University. “ Starbucks is known for this and Google has also avoided taxes for a long time across the Netherlands. Profit maximization comes first in these companies and the factors of production are mobile. It is easy to move financial flows. In addition, there seems to be a lack of internal awareness that you are contributing something to society through taxes. ‘

About Uber Parts The tax evasion report has already appeared in the financial press, it has not yet been officially published. CictarHowever, research shows the vastness and consistency of the system. The Dutch road began when Uber transferred the intellectual property, logos and apps from Bermuda to the Netherlands in 2019. This “sale” was regularly funded by a $ 16 billion internal loan from a company based in Uber. Singapore during the quarter. ComplainantInterest, with a score of six percent. The loan provides for an annual tax deduction of $ 1 billion for the next twenty years in the Netherlands.

Domestic Uber companies pay relatively large sums of money for administration (58% of sales) and intellectual property around the world, and as a result almost all of their losses are on paper. The Australian government made over $ 39 million in corporate taxes this way last year, calculating Cictar Based on public sources. Worldwide, it is estimated that 556 million taxes are avoided in this way. Uber makes profits in a fully embroidered business in Singapore – a tax haven.

It costs Cictar Great difficulty in mapping Uber’s financial system, as large parts are completely non-transparent. For example, in the UK Uber is classified as a small to medium business. “As a result, Uber does not have to publish its financial report here,” Ward found. When it comes to global financial flows, Uber can be compared to an international bank, the tax researcher notes, but the company is not required to comply with applicable banking regulations. “There is no adequate control.” The Netherlands also earn nothing from their many Uber BVs within their borders, Ward knows that. “You are a tax shelter for Uber. The only accounting firm paying the high bills is PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which is involved in this build. ‘

How to fight against this international tax evasion? What can the Netherlands do? “On your own, you are on the right track in Europe,” Ward replies. “The European Union wants to tell international companies how much tax they pay in each country where they exist. This is a good start, as you can expect companies like Uber to damage their image and pay taxes under pressure from public opinion. Meanwhile, the Netherlands should be able to slightly tighten control of Uber BV, D Cictar-Contactor. For example, he found several Uber BVs at the Chamber of Commerce, which had never submitted an annual report – which is mandatory.

UK Uber drivers are now also entitled to workers’ rights. it’s a beginning ‘

According to The Australian, there is room for improvement in the area of ​​law as well. “In some countries, for example, limited liability companies are prohibited from using it as a financial construct, just to evade tax. This could also be done in the Netherlands. ‘

“This year we banned intellectual property and interests in the Netherlands,” says Arjan Lejour. Singapore isn’t on this list and that’s what gave Uber its edge. However, according to the Tilburg professor, there are questions about the six percent surcharge the company charges for internal debt. “I am very surprised that the Dutch tax authorities have accepted this.” Lejour says tech companies are making the most of tax breaks introduced by national governments in the last century. “People were so afraid that multinational companies would be taxed twice that they wouldn’t pay anything twice.

International remedy The most important solution to this type of tax evasion should be offered, ” replied Reynier Eschmann fnv this CictarResearch. “Companies like Uber always know how shortcuts are discovered to avoid national tax laws.” As an example, he cites Uber’s sanctions in India, which are described in the report.

In 2016, the Indian government introduced an additional tax for international companies permanently established in the country. The investigation now reveals that Uber India Systems Private Limited (Uispl), Uber’s largest Indian subsidiary, paid just 320 million Indian rupees (now 3.5 million euros) under this tax in 2019-2019. Less than a third of the six percent legally prescribed. Uber India has paid 233 million Indian rupees (2.6 million euros) in taxes, while the country has a turnover of 8.9 billion Indian rupees (98 million euros). So only 2.6%.

“Uber is a great app,” says Ashkeman fnv, “But the world’s goal is to pay as little tax as possible anywhere in the world. Even as a country like India is taking steps for tech companies to contribute to society, Uber will also be making large-scale arrangements to get out of it. ‘European Union and OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) measures are taken, fnv‘Are you here? “If a strong country like India can’t really charge Uber, how do you think things are going in developing countries?”

Arjan Lejour says that international cooperation certainly gives hope for the distant future. ‘In OECD And the G20 is talking about a minimum rate for income tax, but it would be better if there was a system where the global profit of a multinational company is determined in one place and prorated in different countries. It’s great that Biden has now spoken of taxing large multinationals. Because if the big countries support it, then such an international tax system is certainly not without luck. ‘

Incidentally, the profit tax isn’t the only government regulation Uber shuns. Because the company treats taxi drivers and food suppliers as self-employed – not employees – the company has avoided at least € 29 million in taxes and social security contributions in the Netherlands. Low last year, fnv In a white paper. “Fortunately, we’re seeing a shift when it comes to these types of platform companies,” says Acekeman. Until a while ago, everyone applauded the activities of Amazon and Uber, but now the dark side is also visible. The UK Supreme Court ruled in February that UK Uber drivers are also entitled to workers’ rights. it’s a beginning. We have also launched a lawsuit in the Netherlands on this matter, which has no chance. Because everyone now sees that tax evasion and employee contributions weaken our social system. ‘


In collaboration with Maarten van Dun (Australia)

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