Today, the Dutch non-governmental organisation SOMO published a report on aggressive tax avoidance methods of the biotech company Qiagen. Qiagen is one of the leading manufacturers of coronavirus tests and has made high profits during the pandemic. Qiagen is based in Germany and aggressively avoids taxes through a network of companies in Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Malta with intra-group loans. According to the report, the company has thus withheld at least 142 million in taxes from the Dutch treasury. There are indications that Qiagen may have avoided over 42 million in corporate taxes in Germany as well. The local authority of the German headquarters in Hilden (North Rhine-Westphalia) would thus have lost local trade taxes as well. At the same time, Qiagen has benefited from extensive public funding from Germany, the U.S. and the EU over the past 20 years. Overall, Qiagen Group has paid an effective tax rate of 15% in the last 5 years and 7% in the last 10 years. This is significantly below the effective tax rate of other consortia based in Germany.
MEP Sven Giegold, financial and economic policy spokesperson of the Greens/EFA group commented:
“It is scandalous when a company collects public funding but evades its tax responsibilities. Qiagen benefits from the pandemic through profits, but damages the common good through tax tricks. The case of Qiagen demonstrates the need for more tax transparency to curb tax avoidance. Shifting profits to subsidiaries is a common method of tax avoidance. In Europe, we need country-specific tax transparency for companies. Country-specific public tax transparency is the sharpest sword against tax avoidance. The German EU Council Presidency currently has the power to put this instrument to the vote of the EU governments. The European Parliament has long spoken out in favour of this.
The financial administration in North Rhine-Westphalia must draw the consequences as quickly as possible. If a company uses taxpayers’ money but tramples on its tax responsibility, politicians must act. I expect a statement from North Rhine-Westphalia’s Finance Minister Lienenkämper whether Qiagen’s internal transfer prices have been audited. If necessary, the transfer prices must be reviewed.”