The Tax and Customs Administration has made active efforts to help the Uber taxi app. For example, the American company was told by the tax authorities what exactly is being discussed with other countries, and what are the positions of countries such as France and Belgium. Uber barely had to pay taxes in the Netherlands. That’s what whistleblower Mark McGahn told the House Finance Committee on Tuesday.
MacGann has worked as a lobbyist for Uber. It’s the source for The Uber Files, a bundle of more than 100,000 internal documents released by investigative journalists last year. These documents also showed that Uber had a “close relationship” with the tax authorities.
Uber’s international headquarters are located in Amsterdam. Thanks to agreements with tax authorities, McGann said, Uber was allowed to pay 25 percent tax in the Netherlands on 1 percent of its income outside the United States. Commission President Peter Umtzigt described the deal: “If you win €1,000, just declare €10, and you’ll pay €2.50 for that.”
The remainder went directly to the shareholders via the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas. McGann: “Our arrival was very beneficial to us. Dutch companies didn’t have those connections. It was unfair.” He says the Uber people were, so to speak, “drunk and high” from their influence in the Netherlands. “The red carpet for us has been redder and longer than the royal family.”
McGann also said former European Commissioner Neelie Croese helped Uber contact Prime Minister Mark Rutte and ministers. “When you’re dealing with enforcement, with morning raids, arrests and harassed drivers, it’s great to have such a privileged entry.” McGann confirmed that Uber had no contact with the regulator, the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate and the Public Prosecution Service.
According to the Irish whistleblower, “The government was blind to the harm Uber was doing in other countries. The Dutch state acted as a defender of Uber.” He calls the IRS a “willing friend and ally,” and says that Uber and the IRS have had a “close, comfortable, and warm relationship on a daily basis.” For example, the tax authorities told Belgium and France that Uber operated from the Netherlands, and the divisions in France and Belgium were mostly marketing departments. “The facts show that this was not true,” says McGann: “All activities in Western Europe, the Middle East and Africa were directed from Paris. All activities in the UK and Scandinavia were commanded from London.”
According to McGann, Uber also knew thanks to tax authorities that regulators in countries like Belgium, France, Denmark and Sweden were looking at drivers’ personal data, such as names, addresses and driver’s licenses. so that they can raise taxes. The countries would have told the Dutch government about this, and the tax authorities would have passed this directly to Uber. The company did not want to provide such information, because drivers may not want to drive to the platform. “It may not have helped us prevent enforcement, but at least it helped us delay it.”
The Tax and Customs Administration itself conducted an investigation into her actions and obtained outside approval from three professors. The conclusion was that Uber was not favored by the tax authorities. In response to MacGann’s remarks, a spokesperson for the Tax and Customs Administration referred to this report, which is largely confidential. In terms of content, tax authorities are not allowed to share anything about contacts with companies or individuals due to a legal duty of confidentiality. McGahn called the report’s conclusion “surprising” and said he was not contacted by investigators.
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