On October 26, 2023, during the discussion of the Tax Plan 2024, the Lower House adopted two amendments for yet another further tightening of the 30% ruling as well as the abolition of the partial foreign tax liability.
After the 30% ruling was further reduced on January 1, 2012 and January 1, 2019, and salary requirements and the 150 km limit were introduced, it was already decided to introduce a maximum salary up to which the 30% ruling can be applied per January 1, 2024.
These new amendments again propose changes to the 30% ruling. Unfortunately, it is not recognized by all parties that the regulation is an investment in the Dutch economy and provides much-needed knowledge and specific experience that we cannot sufficiently provide within the Netherlands. The increase in economic activity due to this extra knowledge provides more than the regulation actually costs.
Consideration in the Senate of the package of measures is scheduled for December 11 and 12, 2023. Voting is scheduled for December 19, 2023. This is very short towards the end of the year and the possible effective date of the new rules. The transitional law is very important.
Amendment Omtzigt: austerity of the 30% ruling
The 30% ruling offers the possibility to pay incoming employees a maximum of 30% of the taxable salary in the Netherlands tax-free, as a lump sum allowance for the additional costs arising from the fact that the employee works outside the country of origin. The 30% ruling has a maximum duration of 5 years (60 months) from which previous stay in the Netherlands is deducted.
Through the adopted amendment of Mr. Omtzigt, it is arranged that as of January 1, 2024, the lump sum for tax-free reimbursement will be a maximum of 30% of the taxable salary for at most the first 20 months of employment. For at most the following 20 months, the allowance will be a maximum of 20% of taxable wages and for at most the following 20 months, the allowance will be a maximum of 10% of taxable wages. After 60 months, the maximum duration of the scheme expires. This is based on the standard situation that an employee first comes to the Netherlands to work here for a specific employer. A previous stay in the Netherlands or previous employment here will also be able to reduce these periods again.
A transitional arrangement will be provided for employees who in the last period of 2023 (generally: the month of December 2023) enjoyed an allowance for which they held a 30% ruling. If an employee again qualifies as an incoming employee after a break, this transitional rule will no longer apply.
The proceeds of the amendment are estimated at €0 million in 2024, €3 million in 2025, €43 million in 2026, €98 million in 2027, €166 million in 2028 and €194 million in 2029 and beyond. The government is requested to use the released budget entirely to reduce student loan interest rates among students of the unlucky generation (those who studied without a basic grant).
Portions of “at most” 20 months are always mentioned. It is not yet clear how exactly this will work out for an employee who is granted the scheme for a shorter period, for example because of previous residence in the Netherlands, or when changing employers, and how this will be monitored. This will require thorough investigation for each application and put additional pressure on the tax authorities and intermediaries. The payroll software will also have to be ready for these changes but it is clear that the software suppliers are not involved in the whole process. Especially given the short time until the proposed effective date of the changes, there is a good chance that the various parties will not be ready in time for the transitional law or to process the new rules.
To be eligible for the transitional law, the employee must receive a lump-sum (untaxed) reimbursement under the 30% ruling in the last pay period of 2023, for which the employee holds a 30% ruling. Whether it is necessary for the decision to have already been issued in 2023 is not clear from the amendment. It seems only reasonable to assume the effective date of the 30% ruling and not allow any delays in the issuance of the actual decision to adversely affect the employee.
Instead of applying the 30% ruling, it is possible to opt for reimbursement of the extraterritorial costs (ET-costs) actually incurred. The employer must be able to prove these costs. The costs must also be recorded per employee in the payroll administration. Reimbursing the actual ET expenses can be a suitable alternative for future expats who have higher ET expenses than the flat rate. Especially if the reimbursement should eventually not exceed 10%. The choice of applying the actual reimbursement or the lump sum should be made for a calendar year, excluding the first four months of the first year of employment.
Unfortunately, it is not yet clear exactly how the transitional law will work out. We saw this with previous amendments as well. First changes are proposed and adopted, and only then is thought about the far-reaching consequences for existing cases. Especially if employees have been persuaded to leave their homes abroad to come and work in the Netherlands precisely because the 30% ruling would be granted.
An approved motion “about starting the evaluation of expat schemes as soon as possible” considered: the expat schemes are labelled as complex in implementation in the report Aanpak fiscale regelingen. The amendment to make the 30% ruling more austere will actually make it even more complex. Goal and scope are clearly lost from sight here.
Amendment Grinwis: abolition of partial foreign tax liability
Mr. Grinwis’ amendment regulates the abolition of the foreign partial tax liability as of 2025. Under this option scheme, qualifying employees are currently treated as foreign taxpayers for purposes of Box 2 and Box 3 on demand, effectively avoiding taxation on worldwide private assets such as bank accounts and investments.
A transitional rule is provided for employees who were still receiving a flat-rate (untaxed) reimbursement under the 30% ruling for the last payroll period of 2023. Under the transitional law, the partial foreign tax liability can still be used up to and including 2026.
What do the changes mean for your organization?
With these adopted amendments, the 30% ruling will once again be made more austere. It is important as an organization to be aware of this when attracting expats who may be entitled to the 30% ruling.
In addition, the austerity of the 30% ruling will increase the administrative burden. For each employee with a 30% ruling, it will be necessary to keep a close eye on the fact that the percentage of the exemption will change after every 20 months. This will also have to be implemented in payroll processing. Furthermore, both amendments are subject to transitional arrangements that will have to be monitored.
Expatax can help you!
We can support you in applying for the 30% ruling and can also take the salary administration out of your hands. Especially if you employ expats, the salary administration requires specific knowledge and experience that we can offer you.