Fixed travel allowance extended until April 1, 2021
An employer still does not have to face any tax consequences to a changed travel pattern of the employee who works much more from home due to the corona measures. In any case, until 1 April 2021, he/she may continue to rely on the original facts on which the untaxed fixed travel allowance is based.
After the announcement that the approval for the untaxed fixed travel allowance would end on December 31, 2020 , the Dutch cabinet has at first extended it until February 1, 2021. In the new package of aid measures , the emergency measure related to the corona virus and the current lockdown has been extended to 1 April, next.
Not for new employees
The condition remains that the extension is only for a fixed travel allowance that has already been awarded by the employer before 13 March 2020. This means, for example, that an employer cannot grant a tax-free travel allowance on the basis of the specific exemption for employees who started working after that date for the home working days. The employer may of course reimburse them for the kilometres actually travelled at € 0.19 per kilometre tax free, or, in the case of a fixed travel allowance, ensure that the home working days are taxed. The employer can also designate (the taxable part of) this allowance as a final-levy wage charged to the so-called free space.
No obligation to allow travel allowance to continue
Incidentally, the employer is not legally obliged to continue to pay the fixed travel costs if the employee does not incur these costs. If an employee stays at home (partly) for a long time due to illness or working from home, it is reasonable for the employer to (partially) cease the fixed travel allowance. However, if it is stipulated in the terms of employment regulation, personnel manual, employment agreement or collective labour agreement (in Dutch the so-called “CAO”) that the employer must continue to reimburse the travel expenses in the absence of the employee, the employer must continue to do so.
If there is nothing in a regulation or agreement about the travel costs, it is in principle sufficient to inform the employees in writing about the discontinuation of the compensation. Of course, it is advisable to explain why this happens, for example because of necessary cost savings.
Travel allowances from April 1, 2021
This approval from the emergency measures corona crisis decision will probably expire on 1 April 2021. This means that employers must reassess the travel behaviour of their employees. Travel allowances for working days from home are therefore, as things stand now, no longer allowed as of that date. Only actual travel days may then still be reimbursed tax-free up to a maximum amount of 19 cents per kilometre. The employee may than also reimburse more, but payroll taxes must be withheld from the excess amount. For many employees, this will mean that a fixed travel allowance will no longer be available in 2021. After all, the 36-week or 128-day travel requirement must be met again; a fixed travel allowance may only be paid if the employee travels to a fixed workplace for 36 weeks a year or 128 days a year. Does the employee fail to meet this requirement? In that case, reimbursement will have to be on a separate declaration basis or on recalculation.