Uber-files – Tax Avoidance promoted by the Netherlands

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Uber files – confidential documents, leaked to The Guardian newspaper shows that Uber in 2015 sought to deflect attention from its Dutch conduits and Caribbean tax shelters by helping tax authorities collect taxes from its drivers.

At that time, Uber’s Dutch subsidiary received payments from customers hiring cars in cities around the world (except US and China), and after paying the drivers, profits were routed on as royalty fees to Bermuda, thus avoiding corporate income tax.

In 2019, Uber took the first steps to close its Caribbean tax shelters. To that end, a Dutch subsidiary purchased the IP that was previously held by the Bermudan subsidiary, using a $16 billion loan it had received from Uber’s Singapore holding company.

The new setup was also tax driven. Tax depreciations on the IP acquired from Bermuda and interest on the loan from Singapore will significantly reduce Uber’s effective tax rate in years to come.

Centre for International Corporate Tax Accountability and Research (CICTAR) has revealed that in 2019 Uber’s Dutch headquarter pulled in more than $US5.8 billion in operating revenue from countries around the world.

The direct transfer of revenue from around the world to the Netherlands leaves little, if any, taxable profits behind,“. “Uber created an $8 billion Dutch tax shelter that, if unchecked, may eliminate tax liability on profits shifted to the Netherlands for decades to come.”

According to the groups 10-Q filing for the quarterly period ended June 30, 2022, Uber it is currently facing numerous tax audits.

“We may have exposure to materially greater than anticipated tax liabilities.
The tax laws applicable to our global business activities are subject to uncertainty and can be interpreted differently by different companies. For example, we may become subject to sales tax rates in certain jurisdictions that are significantly greater than the rates we currently pay in those jurisdictions. Like many other multinational corporations, we are subject to tax in multiple U.S. and foreign jurisdictions and have structured our operations to reduce our effective tax rate. Currently, certain jurisdictions are investigating our compliance with tax rules. If it is determined that we are not compliant with such rules, we could owe additional taxes.
Certain jurisdictions, including Australia, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the UK and other countries, require that we pay any assessed taxes prior to being allowed to contest or litigate the applicability of tax assessments in those jurisdictions. These amounts could materially adversely impact our liquidity while those matters are being litigated. This prepayment of contested taxes is referred to as “pay-to-play.” Payment of these amounts is not an admission that we believe we are subject to such taxes; even when such payments are made, we continue to defend our positions vigorously. If we prevail in the proceedings for which a pay-to-play payment was made, the jurisdiction collecting the payment will be required to repay such amounts and also may be required to pay interest.
Additionally, the taxing authorities of the jurisdictions in which we operate have in the past, and may in the future, examine or challenge our methodologies for valuing developed technology, which could increase our worldwide effective tax rate and harm our financial position and operating results. Furthermore, our future income taxes could be adversely affected by earnings being lower than anticipated in jurisdictions that have lower statutory tax rates and higher than anticipated in jurisdictions that have higher statutory tax rates, changes in the valuation allowance on our U.S. and Netherlands’ deferred tax assets, or changes in tax laws, regulations, or accounting principles. We are subject to regular review and audit by both U.S. federal and state tax authorities, as well as foreign tax authorities, and currently face numerous audits in the United States and abroad. Any adverse outcome of such reviews and audits could have an adverse effect on our financial position and operating results. In addition, the determination of our worldwide provision for income taxes and other tax liabilities requires significant judgment by our management, and we have engaged in many transactions for which the ultimate tax determination remains uncertain. The ultimate tax outcome may differ from the amounts recorded in our financial statements and may materially affect our financial results in the period or periods for which such determination is made. Our tax positions or tax returns are subject to change, and therefore we cannot accurately predict whether we may incur material additional tax liabilities in the future, which could impact our financial position. In addition, in connection with any planned or future acquisitions, we may acquire businesses that have differing licenses and other arrangements that may be challenged by tax authorities for not being at arm’s-length or that are otherwise potentially less tax efficient than our licenses and arrangements. Any subsequent integration or continued operation of such acquired businesses may result in an increased effective tax rate in certain jurisdictions or potential indirect tax costs, which could result in us incurring additional tax liabilities or having to establish a reserve in our consolidated financial statements, and could adversely affect our financial results.
Changes in global and U.S. tax legislation may adversely affect our financial condition, operating results, and cash flows.
We are a U.S.-based multinational company subject to tax in multiple U.S. and foreign tax jurisdictions. U.S. tax legislation enacted on December 22, 2017, and modified in 2020, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (“the Act”), has significantly changed the U.S. federal income taxation of U.S. corporations. The legislation and regulations promulgated in connection therewith remain unclear in many respects and could be subject to potential amendments and technical corrections, as well as interpretations and incremental implementing regulations by the U.S. Treasury and U.S. Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”), any of which could lessen or increase certain adverse impacts of the legislation. In addition, it remains unclear in some instances how these U.S. federal income tax changes will affect state and local taxation, which often uses federal taxable income as a starting point for computing state and local tax liabilities. Furthermore, beginning on January 1, 2022, the Act eliminated the option to deduct research and development expenditures in the current period and requires taxpayers to capitalize and amortize these expenses. Although Congress is considering legislation that would defer the capitalization and amortization requirement, there is no assurance that the provision will be repealed or otherwise modified. If the requirement is not repealed or modified, our financial condition, operating results, and cash flows may be adversely impacted by this legislation.
We are unable to predict what global or U.S. tax reforms may be proposed or enacted in the future or what effects such future changes would have on our business. Any such changes in tax legislation, regulations, policies or practices in the jurisdictions in which we operate could increase the estimated tax liability that we have expensed to date and paid or accrued on our balance sheet; affect our financial position, future operating results, cash flows, and effective tax rates where we have operations; reduce post-tax returns to our stockholders; and increase the complexity, burden, and cost of tax compliance. We are subject to potential changes in relevant tax, accounting, and other laws, regulations, and interpretations, including changes to tax laws applicable to corporate multinationals. We could become subject to digital services taxes in one or more jurisdictions where we operate. The governments of countries in which we operate and other governmental bodies could make unprecedented assertions about how taxation is determined in their jurisdictions that are contrary to the way in which we have interpreted and historically applied the rules and regulations described above in our income tax returns filed in such jurisdictions. New laws could significantly increase our tax obligations in the countries in which we do business or require us to change the manner in which we operate our business. As a result of the large and expanding scale of our international business activities, many of these changes to the taxation of our activities could increase our worldwide effective tax rate and harm our financial position, operating results, and cash flows.”

 

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