Van Rij does want to talk to Parliament about tax agreements with Uber Accountancy

Van Rij does want to talk to Parliament about tax agreements with Uber Accountancy
Van Rij does want to talk to Parliament about tax agreements with Uber Accountancy

State Secretary Van Rij (Fiscality) is prepared to discuss the tax treatment of Uber in the House of Representatives with a confidential briefing. Parliamentary questions were asked about this after it appeared that former European Commissioner Neelie Kroes had lobbied vigorously for the taxi app service from 2015 onwards. Prime Minister Rutte, who also received questions, has no opinion about this.

Kroes was European Commissioner until 2014, but then had to deal with a so-called cooling-off period in which she was not allowed to engage in such activities. Moreover, leaked documents showed that not only Kroes was committed to making it easier for Uber. Senior officials also allegedly violated the rules to favor Uber, including by leaking information.

Van Rij now informs the House that the Tax and Customs Administration is conducting an investigation. He believes that the issue has caused so much controversy that in this case it is appropriate to inform the Senate and the House of Representatives about the results of the investigation in a confidential briefing. Normally no statements are made about individual cases.


Prime Minister Rutte also received parliamentary questions about the case. MPs Marijnissen and Leijten (SP) had asked questions about the contacts he had with Uber. According to previously leaked documents, he would have indicated that Uber is seen as aggressive. “Change the way people look at Uber by emphasizing the positives,” he advised the taxi service. “Then you seem huggable.”

In his answers, Rutte keeps a low profile. He had known about Kroes’s role as a member of Uber’s advisory board since May 2016. Since 2014, Rutte’s advisor at the time had regular conversations with an Uber lobbyist and with Kroes as ‘special envoy’ for interest group StartUpDelta. ‘The purpose and function of these conversations is to maintain the relationship and to hear any points for attention. This is the responsibility of the adviser who is responsible for economics and business. I’m not aware of any threat from Uber about a departure from headquarters.’

Functional conversations

The prime minister spoke twice in 2016 with Uber boss Travis Kalanick and three times in 2018 and 2019 with his successor Khosrowshahi. What did they talk about? ‘An explanation from Uber about current affairs at the company and how Uber can have a positive effect on social themes such as traffic and labor market development, the location of the international head office in Amsterdam’, Rutte states, among other things. He does not think that he has thus created the impression that the cabinet is easily influenced by companies: ‘The conversations I have as a member of the cabinet are functional conversations. The Ministry of General Affairs and I have a role in maintaining contacts with the business community and in attracting foreign investment and employment in the interest of the Dutch economy and employment. In such discussions, a company is free to make its points of interest known.’ When he spoke to Kalanick in early 2016, he was aware of an ongoing criminal activity investigation by the Uber CEO. But everyone is innocent until proven otherwise, Rutte defends himself.

‘Not approached to the best of my knowledge’

Rutte does not have an opinion about Kroes’ attitude. Whether she has violated the integrity rules by lobbying for Uber in 2015 and 2016 is up to the European Commission to determine, the prime minister remains silent. Rutte is not aware of the fact that Kroes called ministers and top officials to stop a raid on Uber – as far as he knows. ‘To the best of my knowledge I was not approached about this and I was not aware of possible phone calls that had been made.’

For the time being, the House will not know when and how Rutte was informed about Uber, its location and its wishes regarding policy: ‘A similar question has also been asked to other ministries. An inventory is currently being made. The House will be informed about this as soon as it has been completed.’ The Prime Minister also does not remember whether Uber was ever discussed during the Council of Ministers. That is why a ‘search’ has been carried out in the decision lists of the Council of Ministers and has yielded no results.

The article is in Dutch

Tags: Van Rij talk Parliament tax agreements Uber Accountancy

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