The Termination of the United States-Netherlands Antilles Tax Treaty: What Were the Costs of Ending Treaty Shopping

Crandall, Frith | January 1, 1988

On June 29, 1987 the United States Treasury Department terminated the United States-Netherlands Antilles Tax Treaty (the “Treaty”). The United States and the Netherlands Antilles had attempted to preserve the Treaty for eight years. However, negotiations ended because of a loggerhead over the extent to which the Netherlands Antilles would maintain any tax haven status. Termination of the Treaty was a victory for the United States since third parties to the Treaty could no longer misuse it to evade United States taxes. Furthermore, the termination significantly advanced the continuing United States policy to eliminate “treaty shopping.” The purpose of this Comment is to analyze the legal problems arising from termination of the Treaty. The analysis underscores the difficulty in balancing two conflicting governmental policies: tax-raising concerns and monetarist goals. The Comment further considers long-term implications for United States foreign relations which flow from the Netherlands Antilles incident. The Comment concludes that, given the acceleration of the United States anti-treaty shopping policy over the past eight years, termination of the Treaty was an inevitable and necessary step. However, in executing its international tax policies, the United States cannot proceed as if in a vacuum. Here, the Treasury Department was short-sighted with respect to the immediate impact of termination on the Eurobond market, and with respect to foreign perceptions about the United States credibility as a treaty partner.