Portuguese firms send €2bn to tax havens

Portuguese multinationals have transferred more than €2 billion in profits to The Netherlands between 2009 and 2011, according to a study from Somo, a Dutch research centre on multinational companies.

Many companies have relocated their headquarters to the western European country to benefit from the country’s more competitive fiscal regime and guarantee fiscal exemption in their country of origin.

According to data from the European Union (EU), the annual loss in fiscal revenue due to fiscal fraud and tax evasion is €1 trillion per year in EU countries. This figure is the equivalent to €2,000 per year per EU citizen and surpasses the total amount spent on health care in the EU. It is estimated that tax evasion accounts for at least €150 million of this fiscal hole.

The Netherlands was the main destination of Portugal’s foreign direct investment in 2011, totalling €19.8 million. As part of the tax evasion scheme, the money then returns to Portugal, as the figures show: The Netherlands was also Portugal’s main investor in 2011, reaching the €20 million mark.

The Netherlands has been a tax haven for large Portuguese companies for years – out of the country’s 20 largest national firms, 19 are based in the country.