The dividend withholding tax memos do indeed appear to have been drawn up and will finally be released, according to Prime Minister Rutte in a statement made yesterday. Once Jan van de Streek and Martijn Nouwen had attempted to file a request under the Government Information (Public Access) Act (Wet openbaarheid van bestuur) the existence of the memos was abruptly confirmed.
Yesterday, the uncertainty about the memos concerning the repeal of the dividend withholding tax was finally resolved. The memos had been drawn up during negotiations to form a new government, but never made public. Rutte had previously stated that he was unaware of any such memos concerning the controversial levy but couldn’t categorically rule out their existence.
Jan van de Streek and Martijn Nouwen of the Amsterdam Centre for Tax Law had already filed a request for documentation under the Government Information (Public Access) Act (Wet openbaarheid van bestuur) for their research into the repeal of and the considerations put forward concerning the dividend withholding tax. The Ministry of Finance, in denying the request, had confirmed that the memos did in fact exist.
Rutte now appears to be ready to release the official documents on the repeal of the dividend withholding tax. The Netherlands Broadcasting Corporation NOS is now reporting that he requested all ministers to ferret out any internal information on the dividend withholding tax.
The government would like to repeal the dividend tax currently withheld from foreign investors. The measure comes with a price tag of EUR 1.4 billion, but the government is convinced that it will nonetheless benefit the investment climate in the Netherlands. The left-wing opposition has been highly critical of the (costly) measure and has demanded access to the documents that laid the foundation for the decision. In recent months, there has been growing uncertainty about whether the memos actually existed and, if they did, whether they should be released to the public.