Dutch government to appeal EU ruling on Starbucks tax deal

A Starbucks store is seen inside the Tom Bradley terminal at LAX airport in Los Angeles, California, United States, October 27, 2015. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The Dutch Finance Ministry said on Friday it will appeal against a European Commission ruling ordering it to recover up to 30 million euros ($31.8 million) in taxes from Starbucks.

Antitrust commissioner Margrethe Vestager ordered the Netherlands in October to recover 20 million to 30 million euros ($23 million to $34 million) in back taxes from Starbucks, accusing the U.S. coffee shop chain of benefiting from an illegal tax deal.

Starbucks has already said it would appeal the EU’s decision.

A ministry statement said that while the Dutch government supports the fight against tax avoidance, it “greatly values its practice of offering certainty in advance,” by providing so-called tax rulings to multinational corporations.

The Netherlands has come under pressure in recent years to reform its tax system, which disadvantages developing countries by lowering tax rates for some multinationals to single digits.

The Commission said the tax deal with Starbucks is effectively state aid.

“The government is of the opinion that the Commission does not convincingly demonstrate that the tax authority deviated from the statutory provisions. It follows that there is no state aid involved,” the ministry said.

The Dutch government said it will appeal the ruling in order to get certainty on the case law, under which it now provides thousands of tax rulings.

($1 = 0.9446 euros)

Reporting by Anthony Deutsch; editing by Susan Thomas and Adrian Croft