The Dutch state railway is under serious fire for leasing its trains in low-tax Ireland. And it’s not the only operator to do so

The sleek intercity train connecting Amsterdam to Rotterdam zips between the two cities in just 40 minutes and, with a walk-up price of just €15.40 (£13.50), puts our fares to shame. The Dutch railways are still nationally owned, operated by Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS), and the route between the two cities claims a 100% punctuality record. But the Dutch have been in uproar over what might be another record: one of the most shameful tax deals in Europe, and one that throws the spotlight once again on Ireland’s dubious corporate tax policy.

In recent years, the Dutch have been horrified to discover that while they buy their train tickets from a state-owned company, a significant chunk of the money has been funnelled through Ireland. That’s because NS Financial Services, 100% owned by NS, bought the trains, then leased them back to NS, while being incorporated in Ireland. In doing so, its profits have come under Ireland’s 12.5% company tax rate, rather than the 25% prevailing in the Netherlands.

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