The Netherlands on Tuesday expressed surprise at U.S. President Barack Obama's qualification of the Netherlands as a "tax haven."
The Dutch Finance Ministry reacted with astonishment to the list presented by Obama on Monday, which names the Netherlands as one of the world's top three corporate tax havens, together with Bermuda and Ireland.
A spokesperson said the ministry is working with its U.S. colleagues to trace the origin of this misunderstanding and remove it, Radio Netherlands reported.
The spokesperson said the Netherlands has "a very average tax level."
Obama on Monday presented proposals to curb the tax benefits enjoyed by companies and wealthy individuals harboring cash in offshore accounts, including in the Netherlands. U.S. multinational corporations in 2004 paid only 16 billion dollars in U.S. taxes on 700 billion dollars in foreign earnings.
Obama didn't name the Netherlands in his speech, but a fact sheet distributed to journalists said nearly one-third of all foreign profits reported by such corporations in 2003 came from three low-tax countries: Bermuda, Ireland and the Netherlands.
The Dutch embassy in Washington has expressed surprise at such accusations. "This is factually not correct," the embassy said in a statement to U.S. media.
"Dutch corporate taxation is fully transparent and the rate is 25.5 percent, which puts us in the medium-tax rate category and not in the low-tax category," it said.
The White House wants to collect 210 billion dollars over the next ten years by fixing what Obama called a "broken tax system." Multinationals, he said, pay an average tax rate of just two percent on their foreign revenues.