lawful vs unlawful is often grey vs grey

Published 21 July 2016 by Meijer Advocaten en Belastingadviseurs B.V.

Dear colleagues,

Allow me to introduce myself as a new IR Global member by presenting this short (first) article about white collar crime.

White collar crime is not restricted to individuals, companies, organisations and their advisers that intent to break the law. Frequently there is no intention to break the law at all.

Let ‘s talk about tax law for example: the line between avoiding taxes on the one side and dodging on the other side is very thin and in many cases very unclear.  Mind you, same applies to other fields of law  such as competition law, financing law, labour law etcetera.

In most jurisdictions it is completely lawful to avoid and save on taxes. By consequense advising on tax structures  is a lucrative business for lawyers. I myself have no clients that do not wish to save on taxes.  I suppose this applies to all of us. Tax saving structures are business.

However a tax saving structure does not only require strict reading and application of the laws of the jurisdictions involved but a structure also has to fit in the (global) activities and goals of the client. Reasonable doubts about the aims of a structure can ultimately result in unlawfulness of the structure in one or more of the jurisdictions involved, with serious consequenses.

On the basis of many Conventions, increasingly States exchange data and cooperate with each other to establish whether a structure serves any other goal then saving taxes.  On that count things often go wrong and in many cases tax saving advises appear to be inadequate which leads  to major problems for both client and adviser. It means that advisers need to test and recheck a structure in all jurisdictions involved. This is very important but it requires cooperation between advisers.

The many structures that appear in ‘The Panama Papers’, but also the ‘Starbucks’ case show us the extent of the risks at stake. Let us think about it.

I hope to be able to contribute to international cooperation between IR Global members and I  plan to elaborate on the subject in the future to come.

Naturally I will be delighted to brainstorm with you about this subject. Just contact me.

I hope to meet you in Amsterdam.

Kind regards,

Joost Meijer



IR Global, the world's largest exclusive network of advisory firms is delighted to introduce Joost Meijer of Meijer Advocaten en Belastingadviseurs B.V. Joost has joined IR as our exclusive White Collar Crime member in the Netherlands.


Joost Meijer, LL.M. studied tax law and has worked as a lawyer and tax consultant since 1987, and as a mediator since 2000.

He specialises in handling tax conflicts, fraud cases and proceedings before the Amsterdam Enterprise Chamber. His work as a mediator is mainly in the areas of business disputes, estate and property divisions.


Our firm is independent and your interests will always be our first priority.

We believe in a personal relationship with our clients. We ensure that a second lawyer within the firm is familiar with a case, so that even when the usual lawyer is not present, there is always someone who can speak with the client.”


If you have a requirement in this area, please get in touch with Joost directly or with the IR Global head office for an introduction.