Financial Reporting and Tax Havens

The day started out with clear skies as we headed to breakfast. We discussed our doubts about the forecast for the day: 100 percent chance of rain. The forecast proved accurate before it was lunch time. We were told by our lecturer from Akzo Nobel that this rainy weather was quite common here, just as it is in Eugene.

After breakfast we were seated in an adjacent room overlooking a calm pond overshadowed by old trees. Erika from Akzo Nobel met us at 9:00 a.m. to give insights on the complexity of financial reporting through different jurisdictions, accounting standards, and cultures. Some of the important topics included dealing with pension plans and how the latest laws have changed the cash balance for the company, leading them to borrow from the bank to pay dividends.

Shortly after noon we ate lunch on campus and prepared for our ride to Loyens & Loeff. The building was five stories high, and featured an open middle area in which all the offices overlooked the entrance area, a lunch seating area which also has been used for bands or symphonies, and clear elevators going up on the corners. We were greeted by three employees who discussed the reasons many international companies use the Netherlands for tax purposes. They showed a video illustrating the emotions regarding the political climate surrounding using tax havens to increase profits. Both sides were addressed from the perspective of taking money from the government and tax payers, to the perspective of the hindrance in remaining competitive when in a high tax rate country when other companies located in lower tax countries are able to reduce their tax expense, making them more profitable.

We ended our night with a 30-minute walk to a great restaurant that had the best salmon I have ever had, and more desert than anyone could finish. It was a great ending to a great day.

Written by Steve Griswold