Dutch pension trade body to investigate impact of property tax rules

The Dutch Pensions Federation is to investigate the possible consequences of new tax rules for direct property investments in the Netherlands.

The trade body said that it was worried about a sentence in the coalition agreement stating that “direct investments in property will no longer be allowed as a consequence of the abolishment of dividend tax”.

This seems to imply that future direct investments will be subject to the Netherlands’ 21% rate of corporate tax. Dividend tax is 15%, and can be reclaimed by pension funds.

“We have been surprised by the announced measure, in particular given the cabinet’s wish of increased local investments by pension funds,” a spokesman for the federation said.

“If the measure has a negative impact on pension funds’ returns or the investment climate in the Netherlands, we will take action.”

The €456bn asset manager APG – which has provided feedback to the Pensions Federation – explained that its direct investments in real estate were in part placed in “fiscal investment institutions”, known as FBIs, which are exempt from corporate tax.

This was to prevent pensioners from being taxed twice, as they also pay tax on the benefits they receive.

Michiel de Wit, fiscal expert at APG, argued that the proposed measure in the coalition agreement would mean that Dutch investors were paying for tax revenues no longer paid by foreign investors as a result of the abolishment of the dividend tax.

De Wit couldn’t say whether such a tax change would encourage APG – asset manager for the €396bn civil service scheme ABP – increase its property investments abroad.

“Although we do run a number of FBIs ourselves, we have much less say in investment choices of listed vehicles, such as Wereldhave and Vastned.”

He highlighted that Wereldhave and Vastned – investment companies specialising in European shopping centres and retail properties – lost 2.5% and 3.5% in value, respectively, since the coalition accord was presented on 10 October.

APG’s worldwide property stake is €40bn, of which €2.4bn (6%) has been locally invested.

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