Global Payroll — 17 min
Netherlands — 11 min
Imagine your best employee is leaving your country and moving to the Netherlands. She wants to keep working with your company, and your organization is set up for remote work. While you’d like to keep her on staff, this move to the Netherlands concerns you. Is the cost of keeping your employee going to mean payroll taxes in the Netherlands for your company?
Keeping compliant with Dutch tax law can seem overwhelming if your organization is considering employing workers who live in the Netherlands. You may not know where to start.
Trying to manage payroll for Dutch workers when your business isn’t established in the Netherlands is a challenge for any team, even sophisticated enterprise HR departments.
There is a much simpler solution to remove all of this anxiety, confusion, and risk. You can use an Employer of Record (EOR) to legally hire and pay your Dutch employee on your behalf and ensure you stay compliant with local employment regulations at all times.
First, know you’re not alone — plenty of managers want access to the best global talent, and so many growth-focused businesses are looking to employ top remote talent in the Netherlands
We’ve prepared a dedicated guide to help you understand how to pay your Dutch workers while minimizing your risk, but first, it’s critical that you have an understanding of the Netherlands’ specific tax requirements for remote employees and contractors.
Tax law in the Netherlands can be confusing. While some parts of the tax code — like permanent establishment requirements – may appear similar to other countries’ laws, other pieces of the tax code are specific to Dutch law.
It’s important to get a full picture of Dutch tax law before jumping into employing a Dutch worker, and avoid mistakes commonly made when companies go remote without all the information they need.
If you’re employing a worker in another country, you may be concerned about permanent establishment risk – the risk that your company is established enough in that country to be taxed. “Permanent establishment “ (also called “substance requirement”) is a tax term for businesses that have an ongoing presence in a country.
This is something businesses want to avoid, because it means being taxed twice, once by your home country and once by the country you’ve triggered permanent establishment in.
Often permanent establishment is triggered by issues like the following:
Our guide to permanent establishment can help you understand more about this risk in general, but it’s important to note that permanent establishment is treated differently in every country. So, are you in danger of permanent establishment in the Netherlands?
The Netherlands sticks pretty close to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) guidelines for defining permanent establishment. For one thing, a company’s premises are a major trigger for permanent establishment; particularly if a company is making or selling something in the Netherlands.
For example, if your company’s premises (like retail outlets, points of sale, workshops, factories or outlets) are located in the Netherlands and capable of acting as a fully self-sufficient business, your business is classified as having permanent establishment in the Netherlands.
But permanent establishment can also be triggered simply by a representative of the company working from the country.
If your worker in the Netherlands is in a “contracting state,” meaning that they’re doing business on behalf of the company and in the name of the company, this alone can trigger permanent establishment risk, especially if they’re only working for your organization (although be aware that co-employment won’t necessarily impact your permanent establishment risk).
A designer, engineer, or salesperson, for example, may trigger permanent establishment — even if they’re not working in isolation for your organization.
The penalties for non-compliance are stiff, so you need to take this risk seriously.
If the Netherlands deems that your company has a permanent establishment and you’re not meeting your taxation obligations, this can be considered tax evasion or worse, tax fraud. Both crimes come along with huge fines and even possible jail time, apart from the obvious resulting public relations nightmare.
The lesson is simple. If you’re looking to work with Dutch employees or contractors, you should consult an EOR like Remote who have a team of internal local experts (or another Dutch employment law specialist) if you don’t own a legal entity in the Netherlands. The absolutely safest way to avoid permanent establishment is to work with a global employment solution that can help you understand the specific laws of the country in question.
Let’s talk taxes. In the Netherlands, both public and private companies pay a corporate income tax on their profits. This can also apply to foundation and associations, depending on the scenario. There are some organizations that are exempt from the corporate income tax as well, such as fiscal investment institutions.
The corporate tax rate itself depends on a company’s taxable income: its taxable profit, less its deductible losses.
As of 2021, the corporate tax rate is as follows:
There’s a special consideration for companies that engage in innovative research (this is called the “Innovation box”). Companies covered by the innovation box are taxed at 9%.
To your country or their own?
There’s an easy answer to that if your worker is Dutch and living in the Netherlands. Anyone who lives in the Netherlands or receives income in the Netherlands is subject to income tax, paid to the Dutch Tax and Customs Administrations. This means your Dutch employees have to pay taxes, which they will do by filing a tax return, but because some of their tax is deducted from their paycheck, you’ll also be paying tax on their behalf.
Dutch residents pay taxes on their income, their financial interests, their savings and their investments (these categories are called boxes). They also pay statutory fees out of their paychecks, such as pensions for old age, long term care and a pension for orphans and widows.
How does this affect your payroll?
You’ll be paying out of your employee’s paycheck for specific fees, like insurance and social security payments.
So, what exactly is the income tax your employees will be paying out of their paycheck?
How much tax you’ll be paying depends on their wage bracket:
There are some other special tax issues that should be mentioned.
Employees’ holiday allowance pay is taxed, just as their salary is.
The exact amount of tax depends on the salary of the employer, but it is higher than the regular tax rate.
You can learn more about your payroll and benefit obligations on our Dutch country explorer page.
Taxes can get a little tricky when your workers have recently moved.
Below are a couple of rules that will help you and your employees navigate a recent move and taxation.
The Netherlands offers a special tax rate for certain expats who have been recruited to work in the Netherlands for a specific role. It’s intended to compensate the employee for the expense of their move and the cost of living in the Netherlands. When certain conditions are met, the 30% reimbursement ruling allows an employer to grant a tax-free allowance equivalent to 30% of the gross salary, subject to Dutch payroll tax.
This benefit is available for up to five years and entitles them to partial non-resident taxpayer status.
If your employee qualifies, it’s up to you to help them apply for the benefit.
What if your employee hasn’t been living in the Netherlands for a full year?
The 183 day rule, so named because the 183 days is the larger “half” of a 365-day year, means that if a worker has spent 183 days or more in a country, they are considered a tax resident for that year. The Netherlands observes this rule.
Contractors in the Netherlands — classified as employees with flexible contracts – are entitled to more benefits than those in other countries. As of 2020, for example, you will pay less of an unemployment benefit contribution for employees with fixed-term contracts, and a higher unemployment contribution for employees with a flexible contract.
On-call workers also should be offered a permanent contract after a year of working for your company, and if you terminate the contract you’ll be required to pay a transition fee to help temporary workers move to a new job.
As with traditional employees, remote workers can either be employees or contractors.
The Netherlands classifies these employees as workers with permanent contracts and flexible contractors, and in some cases, requires some contractors to be offered permanent positions after a year with their current employer.
For more information about the difference between employees and contractors, check out our guide about contractors and employees.
Thinking that you can get around some of the above taxation issues by hiring employees as contractors? Please don’t! There are significant dangers to misclassifying your employees as contractors. While the Netherlands did protect companies who mistakenly misclassified employees, those protections have now ended with The Balanced Employment Market Act. This act offers more protections to contractors and you can also be subject to fines for misclassification.
All of this can seem tricky and complicated, but it doesn’t need to be. The best way to keep yourself compliant with tax law is to have an expert on your side, a partner with roots in the Netherlands who can help you understand the tax code, its changes, and how you can make sure you’re doing everything right by both your employees and the Dutch government.
Remote can help your business hire international contractors legally, easily, and quickly.
The Netherlands are a part of the European Union, but the country has always done its own thing: canals instead of roads, inventing its own painting style during the Renaissance, legalizing certain controlled substances.
It’s no surprise that the Netherlands also takes a different approach to some labor laws. Its approach to contractors is just one difference from other countries’ stance on freelance workers.
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