The public debate around tax has been shifting rapidly for a number of years. Whereas past discussions were generally focused on effective tax rates or being in control of tax risks, the topic has now evolved and sits within a much broader context. For example, themes like tax in the boardroom, sustainable tax and fair share are now widely discussed. Society’s general mindset around tax has shifted.
In this context, stakeholders expect Deloitte Netherlands to reflect on how we deal with our own tax affairs – and not only our internal stakeholders, such as the Supervisory Board, the global Deloitte organisation or the Workers Council, but also external stakeholders like our business partners, or the public in general.
In this section, we describe our attitude as a taxpayer, regarding both Deloitte and our partners/owners, our relationship with the Dutch tax authorities and our responsibilities as a member of the global Deloitte community. This section aims to reflect on our transparency about our tax position and to address our leading role on this topic in society.
For the avoidance of doubt, this document does not refer to Deloitte’s position as a financial and tax advisor during its business operations.
Deloitte’s tax policy is based on three pillars.
Deloitte is a purpose-driven organisation acting within a global network. In this network, our Global Principles guide the way we do business, enabling us to take a leading role in society and protecting our brand and reputation. As part of these principles, every Deloitte member firm needs to obey international and local tax rules. This applies to the organisation itself and to its partners/owners. Among other requirements, all tax reporting in the name of Deloitte and of the corporate entities held by the partners who own Deloitte must be done in a timely manner and in compliance with all relevant local tax rules. Furthermore, Deloitte will not enter into aggressive tax planning positions. Deloitte Global requires Deloitte to confirm annually that it meets these principles.
Deloitte aims to act as a responsible party in Dutch society, not only meeting the requirements according to local rules, but also showing leadership towards its stakeholders. Therefore, Deloitte and its partners/owners will not be involved in aggressive tax planning or in structures which could be defined as artificial. We pay our fair share of corporate income tax in the countries where we do business. We commit ourselves to pay wage withholding tax in the countries where our employees do work according to the applicable rules. We do not make use of so-called tax havens where no effective business is carried out. All our tax-related reporting is part of an integrated internal control framework that includes a range of checks and balances to minimise the risks where possible.
Deloitte has entered into an agreement with the Dutch Tax Authority (DTA), which is called Horizontal Monitoring (‘Horizontaal Toezicht’). This system consists of three elements:
We regularly discuss our tax control framework, as part of our overall Internal Control Framework over Financial Reporting (ICFR), with the DTA. Suggested improvements are implemented after approval;
Annually, we perform a randomly selected sample in our system on all our incoming and outgoing payments to test the compliance of the relevant tax aspects. The DTA is involved throughout this process and receives an integral report on findings and identified improvements;
We discuss, in our quarterly meetings with the DTA, all our pending and new tax affairs and our filings in a fully transparent manner.
The DTA changed its policy towards Horizontal Monitoring in 2020 and selected Deloitte to enter into an Individual Control Plan (‘Individueel Toezicht-plan’). We expect to come to an agreement with the DTA on the content of this new approach in 2021.
Deloitte is organised as a corporate entity. The Executive Board consists of three persons, of which one has the function of Chief Operating Officer (COO). The COO is responsible for all finance matters including tax matters. The CTO issues an annual report on Deloitte’s tax position to the Supervisory Board’s Audit & Finance Committee.
The CTO leads a group of experts dedicated to corporate tax, wage tax and indirect tax matters. These specialists regularly discuss pending issues, the impact of new regulations and new developments within the organisation, and they take appropriate actions if needed. These actions can be proactive, when new regulations or developments are recognised, or reactive, if matters arise from the ICFR or the annual sample mechanism. All findings and changes are discussed in full transparency with the DTA in the context of the Horizontal Monitoring system.
Furthermore, Deloitte’s CTO is part of a group of CTOs within Deloitte Global. The group discusses, on a regular basis, anticipated trends and developments in the tax environment and possible measures or adjustments in the global Deloitte organisation’s tax policy.
Deloitte’s partners/owners charge Deloitte a management fee through a personal management company These management fees are fully taxable at the level of the individual management company, in accordance with the regular Dutch corporate income tax rates. Deloitte’s remaining profit is taxable at Deloitte level, subject to the regular Dutch corporate income tax rates.
All filings for corporate income tax returns from Deloitte and the individual management companies of the partners/owners are prepared centrally by Deloitte in line with the guidelines agreed with the DTA.
Cross-border projects or other international services are fine-tuned with CTOs in other countries to ensure Deloitte meets local rules and regulations.
All relevant filings are carried out in a timely manner and in accordance with local rules and regulations. Meetings are held regularly with specialists from the DTA to discuss pending and new tax issues, such as charging travel expenses, cost reimbursements and the so-called free space in the wage tax declaration.
All cross-border work situations (including secondments, projects and expats) are handled by a dedicated group of specialists to ensure that Deloitte and its employees meet all Dutch and local requirements.
Findings from the annual self-initiated sample as described above (in B.3.ii) are reported in full transparency. We also indicate potential improvements or adjustments that can be made to prevent issues recurring in the future.
On all incoming and outgoing transactions, we follow the rules and guidelines for value added tax (VAT). Specific transactions are subject to strict protocols to ascertain that VAT is reported correctly. VAT is also subject to the self-initiated sample as described above, and findings are reported to the DTA in full transparency.
We address this subject in three parts: (i) our shareholders, (ii) the Deloitte Organisation and (iii) our business partners, clients and society.
For Deloitte’s direct shareholders (the partner/owners), we have implemented a system of internal controls to ascertain that all partners/owners are aligned to the same principles. The partners/owners charge Deloitte through a personal management and holding company. All matters related to tax compliance for these entities are serviced by a dedicated group of specialists (Partner Administration Services, PAS) to ensure all tax positions are aligned to our Global Principles. The CTO is involved throughout the process. Furthermore, all partners/owners are required to file their personal income tax returns annually. The returns are monitored by PAS to ascertain that no tax positions are used that might conflict with our tax compliance principles.
Regarding Deloitte as an organisation, as mentioned above, tax is a theme discussed within the Audit & Finance Committee of the Supervisory Board. This is a safeguard to ascertain that no positions are taken that might result in tax charges afterwards or that might trigger reputational consequences.
Deloitte acts as a responsible party in the business community, taking the lead in debates and actively accompanying clients as they navigate business decisions and sustainability questions. In that context, Deloitte recognises that a proper tax policy is essential to being regarded as a professional organisation within our business community.
With attitudes towards tax in our societies rapidly evolving, large corporates in particular are subject to scrutiny. Consequently, we understand that, as Deloitte is one of the leading voices in these public debates, we need to establish and abide by clear policies and controls within our own organisation.