Salary and substantial interest in a limited company

Are you an employee or director (DGA) of a company in which you have a substantial interest? Then the customary salary scheme applies to you. You have a substantial interest in a company if you own at least 5% of the shares in this company.

What is the customary salary scheme?

The customary salary scheme means that a substantial interest holder is expected to receive a salary that is normal for the level and duration of his work.

The customary salary must be at least the highest amount of the following amounts:

  • 75% of the salary of the most comparable employment (of an employee in a similar position in another company);
  • the salary of the highest-earning employee of the company or of the highest-earning employee of an associated company (unless this employee is in a unique position);
  • at least € 48,000 (amount 2022).

From 1 January 2023 the percentage of 75% is increased to 100% of the most comparable employment.

Do others have lower wages?

Is it common that others in the same position receive lower wages for the most comparable employment? And can you make that plausible? Then you can set the salary at that lower amount. You must make a comparison with the most comparable activities from paid employment in which a substantial interest does not play a role.

Is your salary € 5,000 or less?

Is the customary salary € 5,000 or less? And can you prove that? In that case, you declare the salary you received for that work. The limit of € 5,000 applies to the total of your work for all companies in which you have a substantial interest. The limit therefore does not apply per company.


Do you work for start-ups? In that case, a relaxation of the customary salary scheme applies. In that case, you may take the statutory minimum salary as your customary salary. Or, if that is lower, the salary from the most comparable employment. You must make the latter plausible.

This favorable measure will be abolished per 1 January 2023. From that date the normal rules concerning customary salary become applicable.

In order to qualify as a start-up, your employer must meet the following conditions:

  • Your employer has an R&D statement in a calendar year.
  • Your employer is entitled to the increased start-up percentage in a calendar year.
  • Your employer does not exceed the “de minimis” ceiling for state aid under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. For employees who are insured for employee insurance, the employer must apply for a Declaration of de minimis aid from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO). For more information, see
    This condition does not apply to a director-major shareholder.

Does your employer have an R&D statement and is entitled to the increased starter rate for only part of the calendar year? In that case, this scheme applies to the entire calendar year.

You may apply the start-up scheme for a maximum of 3 years. Then the main rule applies again.

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