Chevrons big tax avoidance finally became public news. International and Dutch unions have filed a complaint with a global trade body accusing Chevron of funneling billions of euros through letter box companies in the Netherlands to avoid taxation. In a rare step, the federation of Dutch trade unions, the International Transport Workers Federation and Public services International lodged the complaint with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in the Hague. Chevron did not respond to repeated requests for comment by email and phone.
It has not been long since we heard of the large tax avoidance scheme by Apple, funneling billions of dollars in profit into Ireland. The European Union finally had enough and decided to take Apple to court, citing regulations stating they owed millions in taxes that had gone unpaid. It seems that allegiance to one’s own country, the country that gave the company its head start in the business world, is no longer relevant to CEO’s who owe allegiance only to the stockholders who they answer to on a quarterly basis. Chevrons big tax avoidance is just the latest example of greed gone awry.
“The workers and communities we represent suffer when government provided services such as health care, education, infrastructure, water, energy, and public safety decline.” the complaint said. “Unfortunately, multinationals practice of avoiding paying taxes in the countries in which their wealth is earned deepens global wealth inequality and empowers multinationals against workers and governments.” Scores of multinationals use the Netherlands, which has a network of tax treaties with roughly 100 countries, to shift dividends, interest and royalties untaxed through Dutch shell companies to tax havens overseas.
In their 35 page complaint the unions alleged Chevron had used its Dutch subsidiaries to breach OECD disclosure guidelines in respect of their operations with Chevron’s Nigerian, Argentinian, and Venezuelan businesses. In those examples, the complaint states that Chevron specifically failed to meet requirements to pay tax in the country of extraction and to adhere to Dutch financial disclosure requirements.