Are you eligible for the Netherlands’ 30% ruling? This guide explains how expats can claim a tax exemption under the 30% ruling in the Netherlands.
Maybe you’ve heard of the 30% ruling available to employees who move to the Netherlands and want to benefit – but what is the 30% rule and how does it work? This article explains what you need to know about claiming this tax exemption, and if you qualify while working in the Netherlands.
This guide explains everything you need to know about the Netherlands’ 30% ruling:
- What is the Netherlands’ 30% ruling?
- Conditions to claim the 30% ruling
- Scarcity requirement for the 30% rule
- The Netherlands’ 30% ruling examples
- How to apply for the 30% ruling
- Other benefits of the 30% tax ruling
- FAQs on the 30% rule
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The 30% ruling is a Dutch tax exemption for employees who were hired abroad to work in the Netherlands. If a number of conditions are met, the employer is allowed to pay you 30% of your salary as a tax-free allowance. The tax-free allowance is considered a compensation for the expenses that the employee has by working outside his or her home country.
However, the 30% ruling is being questioned as the Netherlands prepares for a general election in March 2017, with the ruling VVD reportedly being the only party with no plans to change it. In contrast, the PvdA, Socialists, Christian Democrats, GroenLinks and several minor parties want to scrap the 30% rule entirely, while others are proposing cuts.
To be eligible for the 30% ruling the following conditions have to be met:
- the employee works for an employer that is registered with the Dutch tax office and pays payroll tax;
- employer and employee have to agree in writing that the 30% ruling is applicable;
- the employee has to be transferred from abroad or has to be recruited abroad;
- the employee did not reside within 150km from the Dutch border for the last 18 out of 24 months at the time of hiring;
- the employee’s salary is at least €37,000 per annum.
- The employee needs to have expertise that is scarcely available in the Netherlands.
The 30% ruling for PhD and Master’s graduates
Less strict rules apply for PhD and Master’s graduates younger than 30 years:
- the minimum salary requirement is €28,125 taxable.
- if the PhD was completed in the Netherlands, the requirement of ‘being recruited from abroad’ does not have to be met if the candidate is hired within a year of completing his or her studies.
Scientific researchers and training medical specialists
There is no minimum required salary for scientific researchers who are employed by a university or a research institution that is subsidised by the government. Medical specialists in training also have no minimum required salary.
The requirement regarding scarcity on the labour market will be deemed to be met if the minimum salary requirement is met.
The Ministry of Finance indicated, however, that for sectors where every candidate meets the minimum salary requirement, the scarcity test will be applied when considering eligibility for the Dutch 30% ruling.
How long can you claim the 30% tax ruling?
The maximum duration of the 30% tax ruling was originally eight years, but a new ruling has shortened that period to five years as of 1 January 2019. This new time limit will affect new and existing expats who use the 30% ruling. Any period spent in the Netherlands over the last 25 years will count towards your duration of claiming the 30% ruling.
Having read the above conditions, you may see that you are eligible for the 30% ruling, but what does it actually mean?
The salary you agreed on will be reduced by a maximum of 30%. In return you will receive this percentage as a reimbursement for expenses. This is the most common way as it does not influence the salary burden for the employer. However, the employer is not obliged to pass on the advantage of the 30% rule to the employee. In practice it is possible for the employer to partially or fully take the benefit.
In any case, you must still meet the condition that your salary is at least €37,000. This means that, even if the 30% ruling is applicable, reducing your salary cannot result in a salary lower than €37,000. To clarify this rule, see the Netherlands’ 30% ruling examples below.
Example 1: 30% ruling calculations
Your salary is €40,000. Therefore, you qualify for the 30% ruling. However, if your salary is reduced by 30%, this would mean a new salary of €28,000 and a reimbursement of €12,000 – but then your salary would no longer qualify for the 30% ruling. In this case, the maximum advantage you could claim under the 30% ruling would be a new salary of €37,000 and a reimbursement of €3,000. You still receive an advantage of the 30% ruling but not the full advantage.
Example 2: 30% ruling calculations
Your salary is €53,000. Therefore, you qualify for the 30% ruling. As a result, your salary could be split between a base salary of €37,100 and €15,900 as a reimbursement. Since the new salary is more than the minimum requirement, you can fully benefit from the 30% ruling.
Lowering the taxable income will most likely have implications for your potential unemployment or disability benefits, since these benefits are based on your taxable salary. The tax authorities require that both employer and employee are aware of these consequences. This is why the application for the 30% ruling has to be done by both employer and employee and an agreement in writing is necessary. This can be done by means of a clause in your employment contract or as an addendum to the employment contract.
What is considered as ‘salary’?
This has been a major discussion point over the last few years. Of course, your gross salary is considered to be salary, but what about your bonus, holiday allowance, company car, redundancy settlement or any other benefits?
Basically, your ‘regular employment income’ is the basis for calculating the 30% reimbursement. There are regulations regarding pension premiums, but your bonus, holiday allowance, other benefits and company car all fall under the ruling.
A redundancy settlement, however, does not qualify as salary for the 30% ruling.
As well as having 30% of your salary paid tax free, there are other benefits to the Netherlands’ 30% ruling.
Under the 30% ruling you can opt for ‘partial non-residency status’. Even while residing in the Netherlands, you will be considered to be a non-resident tax payer in Box 2 and Box 3 upon choosing the partial non-resident status, although for Box 1 income you will still be considered a resident tax payer. Read an explanation of the Dutch income tax system.
As a partial non-resident, you will consequently not pay income tax on assets in Box 2 and 3 (except for real estate located in the Netherlands and substantial shareholding in a Dutch resident BV) and you are entitled to the partnership ruling in Box 1.
If you have a foreign driving licence, in most cases you have to redo your test in order to obtain a Dutch licence. However, if you benefit from the 30% ruling, it is possible to exchange your foreign driving licence for a Dutch licence without retaking the test. This also applies to all family members registered at the same address as the holder of the 30% ruling.
Employment or self-employed
To be eligible for the 30% ruling you have to be in an employment situation. Thus if you are self-employed in the Netherlands it is not possible to claim the 30% ruling. However, if you set up a legal entity, such as a BV, and become an employee of that company, you are considered to be in an employment situation and consequently eligible for the 30% ruling.
The 30% ruling will become effective in retrospect if the application is submitted within four months after the first day of employment. If the application is submitted after four months, it will become effective as of the first day of the month following the month of application.
If you change job you can reapply for the ruling, provided that you still meet the conditions and your new employment contract is signed within three months after termination of the previous.
30% rulings granted prior to 1 January 2012
The rules for the 30% ruling changed on 1 January 2012. If you are benefitting from a 30% ruling that was issued before 1 January 2012, several special rules apply. Especially people who do not qualify under the new legislation can meet certain grey areas in the law. If this is the case, it is advised to contact your tax advisor.
Lennart Suurmond completed several fiscal studies and joined J.C. Suurmond Tax consultants in 2003. J.C. Suurmond was established in 1986 by his father and the company’s focus has always been on service and results. Tax advice, tax returns, international income and assets, advice re immigration are the main fields where Lennart has experience.Lennart Suurmond