This chapter within our Launch Guide aims to provide a full explanation of the mechanics of the Dutch tax system, for both corporate bodies and individuals.
The Netherlands has one of the most competitive corporate income tax rates in Europe—15% on the first €395,000 and 25.8% for taxable profits exceeding €395,000. Aside from that, The Netherlands offers a variety of tax incentives:
- A network of over 100 tax treaties to provide, in many cases, reduced or no withholding tax on dividends, interest and royalties
- (Advance) Tax ruling practice
- A broad participation exemption (100% exemption for qualifying dividends and capital gains), which is vital for European headquarters
- An efficient fiscal unity regime, providing tax consolidation for Dutch activities within a corporate group
- No withholding tax on outgoing interest and royalty payments
- Favourable expat tax program
Aside from the most obvious tax, which is the corporate income tax, there are several other taxes you need to consider when incorporating a Dutch company. Such as:
- Dividend Taxes (in the form of a withholding tax)
- Wage Taxes & Social Contributions (on (directors) salaries)
In this Launch Guide, we will provide you with an introduction to these forms of taxes, and we will explain when and how these taxes could be relevant to your situation. For example, in case you have started a Dutch Private Limited Company for the sole purpose of researching the market, none of these taxes will be relevant to you. In that case, the only requirement of your company will be to file the corporate income tax return, even if your company made no profit. Luckily, no taxes will be due.
Corporate Income tax
In general, a Dutch resident company is subject to CIT on its worldwide income. However, certain incomes can be exempted or excluded from the tax base. Non-resident entities only have a limited tax liability with regard to income from Dutch sources (these entities will be considered ‘foreign taxpayers’. This is particularly relevant for companies who are (still) managed from abroad, for example during the first year of operation. Any profits generated from these activities will not be taxed. (See corporate residence – paragraph)
Incoming dividends originating from subsidiaries are typically not taxed. Similarly, any capital deposits into the company, originating from the shareholders are also not taxed (or the extraction of this same capital). Conditions apply.
Standard corporate income tax (CIT) rate
The standard CIT rate currently stands at 15% and 25.8%. There are two taxable income brackets. A lower rate of 15% applies to the first income bracket, which consists of taxable income up to EUR 395,000. The standard rate applies to the excess of the taxable income.
In the Netherlands, the corporate residence is determined by each corporation’s facts and circumstances. Management and control are important factors in this respect. Companies incorporated under Dutch laws are deemed to be residents of the Netherlands (although not with respect to certain provisions, such as the participation exemption and fiscal unity).
Bodies established in the Netherlands are resident taxpayers. Foreign taxpayers are bodies that receive income from the Netherlands but are established abroad.
Whether a business is established in the Netherlands for tax purposes depends on:
- the place where the pipeline is located
- the location of the head office
- the place where the shareholders’ meeting takes place
Bodies incorporated under Dutch laws are established in the Netherlands, according to the Corporation Tax Act.
It’s important to discuss this matter with your tax consultant, and get advice in writing, to avoid any problems in the future.
Corporate Tax Incentives
There are several tax incentives in place, which provide (extra) tax breaks on your profits. We have not been able to mention all tax incentives in this Fact Sheet, but we included the incentives which have proven to be most relevant for international companies entering the Dutch market.
There is a system of deductions for small investments, the so-called ‘small scale investment deduction’. To calculate this annual deduction, investments of more than EUR 450 each are totalled to determine the percentage of the deduction. The brackets will be slightly altered as of 1 January 2019.
|Total of investments (EUR)||Deduction|
|0 to 2,300||0|
|2,301 to 56,642||28% of the value of the total of small investments|
|56,643 to 104,891||EUR 15,863|
|104,892 to 314,673||EUR 15,863 minus 7.56% of the amount exceeding EUR 104,891|
|Above 314,673||No deduction|
Conducting certain R&D activities on applied new technology is subsidised by a reduction of wage tax to be paid on wages of employees engaged in R&D of technologically new products. The subsidy accrues to the employer when the employee is credited for the normal amount of wage tax. The subsidy is based on specific legislation (WBSO).
To obtain the relief under the R&D incentive program, taxpayers must file an electronic/online application with the Netherlands Enterprise Agency. The taxpayer will receive an R&D declaration. The budget for this subsidy is fixed, so the amount of the subsidy is dependent on budget availability. Note that self-developed and utilised software falls within the scope of the R&D incentive under certain conditions.
Companies may benefit from an effective tax rate of only 7% for income from intangible assets— including technological innovations—created by the Dutch taxpayer and for which R&D tax credit was received.
Allowance for public-private partnerships in R&D (PPS allowance)
R&D partnerships between public entities and private partners may receive cash grants of 40% on the private investment costs for the first € 20,000 and 30% for the excess. The cash grant has to be invested in the R&D project of the partnership.
Innovation Credit is a risk-bearing loan from the government for the technical or clinical development of a new product, process or service. Funding may vary from 25% for large-scale companies to 35% for medium-sized companies, and 45% for small companies, of relevant project costs with a maximum of €10 million, and the remainder being financed by the company’s own resources.
Corporate Tax Restrictions
The Netherlands’ tax system not only provides ‘extra’ tax incentives but in some cases, restricts the deduction of certain expenses.
You can consider such restrictions in:
- Deduction of ‘mixed costs’ (which has a ‘private’ element)
- Restrictions on the participation exemption (in case of use of tax havens, or passive investment vehicles)
- Restrictions on the deduction of paid interest (to prevent aggressive tax planning)
The law includes a number of costs that may not be deducted in full from the profit. These are the so-called “mixed costs”. The mixed costs are partially deductible from the profit because, according to the legislator, they have both a business and a private element.
Mixed costs are:
- food, drink and stimulants;
- representation costs, including receptions, festive gatherings and entertainment; and
- congresses, seminars, study trips, excursions.
There are two options to apply the ‘mixed cost’ restriction.
Option 1: a fixed amount of the mixed costs (€ 4,500) is not eligible for the deduction, or if 0.4% of the tax wage bill within the company is higher than € 4,500 then this wage bill is not deductible. Option 2: 73.5% of the total mixed costs are deducted and 26.5% are not.
The mixed costs amount to € 20,000. The company’s taxable wage bill is € 750,000.
Option 1. 0.4% x € 750,000 = € 3,000. This amount is lower than € 4,500 so the deduction limit of € 4,500 applies.
Option 2. € 20,000 x 26.5% = € 5,300 not deductible.
In this situation, option 1 is the best choice, because here “only” € 4,500 is not deductible.
There are certain ways to optimise your deductible expenses. For example, to ensure that certain expenses are considered Advertising Costs, instead of Representation costs. Our accounting team can support you on this subject in more detail.
When are corporate withholding taxes relevant?
If you run a business in the Netherlands and you receive interest, royalties or dividends from abroad (for example, from a subsidiary company), withholding tax (bronbelasting) is often deducted on payment of these sources of income.
If you don’t have experience with withholding taxes, for example, if you come from a country like the United Arab Emirates, let us explain what a Withholding tax is. According to Wikipedia, the definition is:
‘A withholding tax, or a retention tax, is an income tax to be paid to the government by the payer of the income rather than by the recipient of the income. The tax is thus withheld or deducted from the income due to the recipient. In most jurisdictions, withholding tax applies to employment income. Many jurisdictions also require withholding tax on payments of interest or dividends. In most jurisdictions, there are additional withholding tax obligations if the recipient of the income is resident in a different jurisdiction, and in those circumstances withholding tax sometimes applies to royalties, rent or even the sale of real estate. Governments use withholding tax as a means to combat tax evasion, and sometimes impose additional withholding tax requirements if the recipient has been delinquent in filing tax returns, or in industries where tax evasion is perceived to be common.’
The most significant Dutch withholding taxes are Dutch dividend withholding tax and Dutch wage withholding tax. We will discuss the Dutch wage withholding tax in our next chapter, concerning Personal Income tax.
The Dutch dividend withholding tax rate is 15%. The Netherlands does not levy withholding tax on royalties or interest. This means the withholding tax on dividends is only relevant if your Dutch company made a profit, and decides to pay out this profit to its shareholders.
Within Europe, most Limited Companies are able to pay out dividends to their holding companies without any withholding tax being applicable, due to the European Freedom of Capital Movement principle.
If the Dutch company pays out dividends to its holding outside Europe, then it will have to rely on the tax treaty between the two countries to check if the standard withholding tax rate of 15% is being reduced.
When dividends are paid out to its individual shareholders, it’s most likely that the standard tax rate of 15% applies, in any situation. Having said that, it’s important to discuss your exact (profit) expectations and current situation with our accounting team, who can inform you in full about the potential tax liabilities.
At the moment, maintaining the dividend withholding tax is under discussion. By abolishing the dividend withholding tax, the current government hopes to obtain a more competitive role as a residence country for multinationals and international entrepreneurs.
Certificate of Residence
If you request a full or partial exemption or refund of foreign tax withheld, the treaty country may ask for a certificate of residence (woonplaatsverklaring).
A tax treaty is an agreement between two countries laying down which of them may tax which income. One country will levy taxes and the other will provide a tax reduction or exemption.
A list of the countries with which the Netherlands has signed a tax treaty is available on the Tax and Customs Administration’s website.
Getting a VAT number: Requirements and relevancy
Obtaining a VAT number in the Netherlands can be complicated, if your Dutch company is not yet fully operational in the Netherlands, or has no local board members or staff yet.
In a standard situation, in which a Dutch company is incorporated by a Dutch national, a new starting company will receive the VAT number about a week after registering with the Chamber of Commerce. He does not have to go to the Tax Authorities for this or file a separate application form.
For non-Dutch entrepreneurs, there can be extra requirements, even if the company is managed by EU nationals.
This can create complications because for many businesses, a VAT number is an essential need. Without a VAT number, they are not able to ‘reverse charge’ VAT on European sales and purchases, or claim back any paid VAT on purchases.
In case your company is NOT operational, or is not planning to perform European transactions, and have limited expenses, your company might not be required to obtain a VAT number. This will be an advantage because it means that you can avoid or postpone certain administrative requirements (and fees!).
‘VAT, also known as sales tax, stands for Value Added Tax. This means that it is a tax that is levied on the value that an entrepreneur adds to a product or service. In other words: the difference between his purchase price plus expenses and the selling price.
Unless they are exempt from this, every entrepreneur must charge this VAT on his sales, or his turnover, and pay it to the tax authorities. On the other hand, the entrepreneur may deduct the VAT they have paid as input tax themselves. This is done in every link of the production chain, from manufacturer to wholesaler to store. Ultimately, it is the consumer who has to pay the entire VAT amount.
And with that, we have arrived at what the VAT really is: a consumption tax.’
In fact, to determine if a Dutch company is even liable for VAT, it is important that an entrepreneur is established in the Netherlands or has a permanent establishment here. But when is a company based here? Which factors play a role?
Board members/Partners live abroad
In numerous court cases, it has been discussed that the seat of business operations determines the location of a business. The seat of business operations can be decided based on the country of residence of the board members, who take the business decisions on a daily basis. In the case of a General Partnership (VOF), it could be claimed that the country of residence of the Partners is decisive, unless the Partnership is effectively being managed from the Netherlands.
Main factors regarding seat location
According to earlier European case law, various factors must be taken into account when determining the tax residency of a corporate entity. The most important factors are the registered office, the place of the central management, the place where the directors of the company meet and the place where the general policy of a company is determined.
In practice, we have also experienced that for VAT purposes it can be relevant if the company performs any activities in the Netherlands, like if it deals with Dutch suppliers or buyers.
Furthermore, in case the company has no fully-fledged office or warehouse facility, this might create the assumption that the company is not effectively operational in the Netherlands. Although the use of a ‘registered office’ is legally allowed, for tax purposes it can have its restrictions; still, that will depend on the whole situation of the company. Technically, it is possible to be considered a tax resident in the Netherlands, while there is no fully-fledged office in place. For example, when the company works with third parties, such as a warehousing or logistics provider.
The general rate of 21%
This applies to services and products. For example, a photographer may charge 21% VAT on his work. The owner of a home accessories web store charges the same for his products.
The reduced rate of 6%
This applies to foods, medicines, books and train tickets. But also about certain services. Bicycle makers, shoemakers, hotel owners and hairdressers, for example, also charge 6% of their services.
The zero rate
This applies if you do business abroad and, for example, export goods. You may have to apply different VAT rates for different services to an invoice. You must register this separately in your accounting.
Also declare in case of zero turnover
You have to calculate how much VAT you have to pay for things in your company, and you have to state this amount yourself. Even if you have not made any turnover in a period or do not have to pay VAT, you still have to make a declaration. If you do not file a tax return, you will receive a supplementary tax assessment in which the Tax Authorities themselves estimate the amount. A fine can also be imposed.
EC Sales List
EC Sales Lists (ESLs) declarations are sometimes required where supplies of goods and/or services are made to another EU VAT registered business. The filing periodicity depends on the type of transactions made and the reporting country. We can help by analysing your business transactions to determine where and when you need to submit ESLs, and completing these on your behalf.
Intrastat reporting is another supplementary cross-border declaration that must be filed periodically. Intrastat reports relate to goods only and there are different thresholds for arrivals and dispatches of goods across the EU, which determine when reporting is required. This means keeping track of sales and purchases in all of the EU countries which is burdensome but comes as part of our service.
Many businesses aren’t aware of the requirement to file Intrastat returns and as a result, have an unknown historic liability. We can help with retrospective issues and the mitigation of penalties, if applicable.
Article 23 license
When doing business in the Netherlands, it may be beneficial to apply for an Article 23 license. This Article 23 license allows a company to apply the reverse-charge mechanism on imports. The reverse-charge mechanism on imports means that you are not required to pay the VAT on imports immediately. The VAT can then be paid when you file your VAT return. In order to do this, you will need an Article 23 permit. We can assist companies that would like to request an Article 23 permit.
As a foreign entrepreneur, you are not able to apply for an Article 23 permit yourself. However, you can engage us to be your tax representative for this purpose. We can declare the VAT that you are required to pay on the VAT return and deduct this VAT as input tax on the same VAT return in the Netherlands. Then you will not be required to pay this VAT in advance on imports.
You are a Dutch importer of bedding from India. The company buys a sea container full of pillows and comforters with a value of €100,000. You will, of course, handle sea freight with our colleagues from TTS TransOcean. The container arrives in Rotterdam and the customs clearance of the goods must take place. In principle, you then pay the import duties (if applicable) and the VAT on the goods (statistical value). In this case, you would have to pay €21,000 VAT directly at the time of the import declaration. (21% of €100,000)
By applying Article 23, you can therefore deduct the VAT on importation again on the same import declaration and you, therefore, do not pay any VAT in balance. If you do not have an Article 23 license, you can deduct the VAT as input tax in the monthly or quarterly VAT return. Then you will get the VAT back.
You can imagine that it is very interesting, certainly if you import goods from outside the European Union more often. Imagine that the bedding importer imports 5 containers per month. This is a liquidity benefit of 5x € 21,000 = € 105,000.
Filing your first corporate tax returns
Hereby we assume your company has already obtained its VAT return, or it has been concluded that your company is VAT tax liable
If you file a declaration, a number of administrative obligations apply. You make a digital declaration via the secure section of our website. You usually make a VAT return once per quarter. You must complete and sign this declaration and return it within two months after the end of the period for quarterly and monthly returns. If you are submitting an annual declaration, you must submit the declaration within three months.
Even if you have not done business in the Netherlands for a period of time or if you are entitled to a refund of Dutch VAT, you must also submit a VAT return.
Does it appear after you have completed the declaration that you have to pay VAT? Then you have the time for quarterly and monthly returns up to two months after the end of the period for which you made a declaration. If you do an annual declaration, the payment must be credited to our account within three months. Is the VAT amount of your purchases and costs higher than the VAT amount that you pay in the Netherlands? Then you can request the difference on your tax return.
When the tax return and payment have to be received by us, you can read the Tax return and payment VAT deadline at the latest.
All companies (BV’s & NV’s) need to file a corporate tax return. Even if the company was not active or has not made a profit.
For a Dutch Stichting, there could be a tax filing exemption applicable.
The first corporate income tax return is often made after 18 months, sometimes even longer. This is because the first financial year of the company is extended.
What is an extended first financial year?
If there is a broken financial year, an extended first financial year can be requested. The purpose of an extended financial year is that companies that only exist for three months already have to prepare annual financial statements and have to make declarations. The financial year for these companies with an extended first financial year then runs until 31 December the following year.
Is your financial year the same as the calendar year? Then you must submit the declaration before 1 June of the following calendar year. Do you have a broken financial year? Then you submit a declaration within 5 months after the end of the financial year
At the time the company files its corporate tax return, it needs to be certain about its tax position (local or foreign taxpayer). It’s advised to discuss this with an independent tax lawyer, and get a written opinion on this matter. The tax position might have an effect on how incoming dividends are taxed from subsidiaries, in an international perspective, among other things.
Dividend Tax Return
Does your company pay dividends to shareholders? Then you must withhold a 15% dividend tax on the dividend that you pay. You must declare and pay within one month of the day on which the dividend is made available. Do you not submit a declaration on time or do you not pay the amount of the declaration on time? Then you can get a supplementary assessment with a fine.
If you do not agree with the amount of the declaration that you have paid afterwards, you can object.
Foreign beneficiary in participation situations
In a participation situation, do you pay dividends to a non-resident person entitled to income? Then you can apply a withholding exemption to the benefit.
Personal Income tax
If you live in the Netherlands or receive income from the Netherlands, you will be subjected to pay income tax in the Netherlands. You pay tax in the Netherlands on your income, your financial interests in a company and your savings and investments.
This means, that even if you live outside the Netherlands, you are legally required to file an Income Tax Return in case you receive (or are expected to receive) income, such as:
- Involvement as a Director (salary)
- Involvement as a Shareholder (dividends)
- Real estate (owned as an individual)
There is a legal requirement in the Netherlands to obtain a certain amount of salary when a shareholder (>5% shareholding) also acts as a director. This is the so-called DGA salary. Aside from these requirements, it’s likely that you will obtain a salary once your company becomes operational. Therefore you need to consider that this salary is taxed in the Netherlands, although in most cases you are eligible for a tax credit in your country of residence.
In the Netherlands you can apply for an expat tax credit (the so-called 30% ruling) in case you will be on the payroll of the Dutch company, earning a certain minimum amount of salary.
As a shareholder, you are taxed in the country of your residency, however, a withholding tax on your received dividends might apply. In many cases, your involvement as a shareholder can be a reason for the tax authorities to send you an invitation to file your Dutch tax return, focused on any salaries or dividends you might have received.
In the Netherlands, worldwide income is divided into three different types of taxable income, and each income type is taxed separately under its own schedule, referred to as a ‘box’. Each box has its own tax rate(s). An individual’s taxable income is based on the aggregate income in these three boxes.
Box 1 refers to taxable income from work and homeownership, and includes the following:
- Employment income (company car can be considered as such)
- Homeownership of a principal residence (deemed income)
- Periodic receipts and payments
- Benefits relating to income provisions
Box 2 refers to taxable income from a substantial interest, and box 3 applies to taxable income from savings and investment.
You pay tax on income from your wealth, including savings, shares and a second home. It is calculated as the value of all assets (such as savings and shares) minus any debts. Part of your wealth is not taxable: the capital yield tax allowance. You pay 30% tax on your taxable income from savings and investments. The government assumes a fixed return, which varies, depending on your savings and investments.
Combined rates in Box 1 for persons younger than retirement age
|Taxable income of more than||Taxable income but less than||Tax per bracket||Premium National Insurance||Total rate|
|€ 0||€ 20,384||9.00 %||27.65 %||36.65%|
|€ 20,384||€ 34,300||10.45 %||27.65 %||38.10%|
|€ 34,300||€ 68,507||38.10 %||38.10%|
|€ 68,507||51.75 %||51.75%|
Box 2 (taxable income from a substantial stake in a limited company)
For the year 2019 the tax rate for income from a substantial interest is 25%.
Box 3 (taxable income from assets)
The tax rate for income from savings and investments stays at 30%. Expats with the 30% ruling can opt-in the tax return to be exempted from taxation on savings and most investments.
Personal Withholding taxes and Social Contributions
Based on your personal situation, our accounting team can determine the exact personal withholding taxes that might be relevant.
If you are on the payroll of the Dutch company, we can prepare a wage tax calculation, providing you with a full understanding of the related taxes. Of course, this is only relevant when you are on the payroll, which we can postpone in case the company is not making a profit yet.
The Netherlands has a minimum wage requirement to employ staff, but there are also certain restrictions on taking a minimum salary while paying out high dividends (which would cause a tax advantage in most cases). (See DGA salary requirement here)
When we calculate your personal income (withholding) taxes, we will also consider the 30% ruling which applies to expats, who have come to the Netherlands for the first time to perform a job.
In most cases, the withholding tax on the salary can also be considered the final income tax. Meaning, that when you file the personal income tax return at the end of the year, it’s not expected that you have to pay extra tax. This can vary, and will depend on extra possible jobs or income you might have, or an incorrect calculation of the withholding tax (for example, wrong tax incentives have been considered).
In case you or the employee is NOT resident in the Netherlands, no social contributions are due. Only the actual taxes. As you might know, most of the progressive tax rate of 52% consists of social contributions. This means that non-residents pay a much lower rate, in the area of 8-10% on their income. We can assist you to determine if this lower tax rate is applicable.
Filing your Personal Income Tax Return(s)
The Wage tax returns are submitted on a monthly basis, assuming the salary is also paid on a monthly basis. In the case of an outgoing dividend, the dividend tax return must be submitted once the dividend payment has been done (within 30 days). No tax breaks are applicable for dividend taxes, unless such as provided by tax treaties.
Aside from these tax returns, which focus on withholding taxes, there is an annual requirement to file a Personal Income Tax return, which will cover all incomes as described above (Box I, II & III). Even if the Tax and Customs Administration has not sent you a provisional assessment you may still be required to file a tax return.
To determine whether you need to pay tax or are entitled to a refund and if so, how much, you can use the services of our accounting team who can provide you with an exact calculation.
What is the Dutch 30 Percent Ruling?
The 30% ruling is a tax exemption for foreign employees who were hired abroad to work in the Netherlands. If the conditions are met, the employer is allowed to pay the employee 30% of his or her salary as a tax-free allowance. This tax-free allowance is considered compensation for the expenses the employee has by working outside his or her home country, but such expenses do not need to be substantiated.
Conditions to Claim the 30 Percent Ruling
Here is the list of the conditions that have to be met to be eligible for the Netherlands 30 percent ruling:
I. The employee has to work for an employer that withholds wage tax and is registered with the Dutch tax office.
II. The employee and the employer have to agree in writing that the 30% ruling is applicable. The 30% ruling application has to be carried out by both employee and employer.
III. The employee has to be recruited abroad by the employer or has to be transferred from abroad. The employee has to prove that he or she was residing abroad before coming to the Netherlands for the job.
IV. For the last 18 months out of 24 months at the time of hiring, the employee has not resided within 150 km from the Dutch border.
V. The employee is getting a gross annual salary of at least EUR 36.889 (the 30% excluded). For those who are younger than 30 years and have completed a master’s degree, a lower salary of EUR 28.041 (the 30% excluded) per annum is applicable. Additionally, for doctors in training or employees in scientific education, no minimum salary is required.
VI. The employee needs to have skills or expertise that are scarcely available in the Netherlands. These skills can be determined based on numerous aspects including age, salary, education, employment history, and level of employment. However, in most cases, your skills are ‘objectively’ measured only by salary. For some professions (like athletes) there are additional conditions.
Other Benefits Of 30 Percent Ruling
On top of having 30% of your salary paid out tax-free, there are several other benefits of the 30% ruling:
Under the Netherlands 30% ruling you can choose for ‘partial non-residency status’. As a partial non-resident, you will not be paying the income tax on assets in Box 3 and 2 (most of your capital, excluding real estate in the Netherlands and considerable shareholding in a Dutch resident BV).
In most cases, even if you have a foreign driving license, you have to redo your test to get a Dutch license. However, if you benefit from the 30% ruling in the Netherlands, it is possible to get a Dutch license by exchanging your foreign driving license without redoing the test.
How long can you claim this tax exemption?
The maximum duration of the Netherlands 30% ruling is 8 years. Time spent in the Netherlands over the last 25 years is included. The counting starts when you move to the Netherlands, not when you apply for the 30% ruling. So: apply as early as possible.
Applying for the 30% ruling in the Netherlands
If you are an employee hired from abroad and bring specific expertise or a high enough salary to the Netherlands, then you might be eligible for the benefits of this special tax ruling.
Our experts at Bolder Launch can assess and request the 30% rule Netherlands for both employers and employees. Applying on time guarantees the employee and the employer to be able to apply the 30% ruling from the first working day. Our accounting team makes sure that requests are handled efficiently and quickly by cooperating with the Tax Authorities.