Newsflash 2019 Budget: 30% ruling to be decreased to 5 years without a normal transition measure for existing cases; Rutte sending expats into the Dutch desert

Sep 19, 2018

Despite the risks of a trade war and a hard Brexit, it is time to give the people of the Netherlands something back, prime minister Mark Rutte said on Tuesday evening, when asked about the government’s 2019 spending plans. ‘Together we have journeyed through the desert and we’ve had to cough up €51bn,’ the prime minister said, referring to years of austerity to get the government’s books in order following the financial crisis. ‘Now it is only logical to give something back to society, because we did it together,’

However, as of January 1st2019, Mr. Rutte is sending tens of thousands of international workers to the desert as they will find their income slashed by hundreds of Euros a month. Furthermore an unexpected additional Box 2 and 3 levy will occur in our income tax (a disadvantage of potentially thousands of Euros per year) because the government will not propose a normal transition period for existing cases to soften the effect of cutting the 30% ruling from 8 to 5 years per 1 January 2019. We previously reported about this on click here.

Despite numerous lobby attempts – also from Migrantic – the government still stubbornly refuses to bring in a transition agreement for international workers faced with losing the 30% ruling from next January. The only, mere palliative, proposed mitigating measure is that school fees for international schools for the 2018/2019 school year –  that will be reimbursed after 1 January 2019 – will remain untaxed if this reimbursement takes place within the original (8-year) term of the 30% ruling.

The decision not to have a transition period for people who expected to have the benefit for at least three more years is harsh, unfair and unreliable but also ‘penny wise, pound foolish’ because the migrant workers will avoid the Netherlands due to its unreliable laws and apparent disregard for promises made in the past.

The VNO-NCW employer’s organisation said in its comments on the 2019 budget that the cabinet is wrong to cut spending on the 30% ruling. ‘The government is showing itself to be unreliable,’ the organisation said in a statement. ‘At a time when the labour market is tight, this is a missed opportunity to bind foreign experts and technicians to our country.’ Migrantic still has hope that the First Chamber of Parliament will not agree to this unreliable and unwise piece of proposed legislation (the Second Chamber will rubber stamp it due to the coalition agreement).

For expats being affected by this measure, i.e. persons having been granted their 30% ruling before 1 January 2014, we strongly advise to prepare for the worst, i.e.:

  • discuss with your tax lawyer your Dutch income tax Box 2 and Box 3 position. This measure means for people that for all intents and purposes they de facto have immigrated to the Netherlands for Box 2 and Box 3 purposes per 1 January 2019.  They therefore likely need to examine and restructure their private wealth portfolio before year-end. A short example, foreign real estate less any related debt is de facto exempt from our Box 3;  wealth/income tax levy, foreign bank accounts are not. Depending on your personal situation you may want to consider to pay off the debt on the foreign house with your savings before 1 January. If you own more than 5% shares in a foreign company, you may also want to restructure this substantial shareholding before this migration takes place.
  • perhaps you can negotiate with your employer what can be done to mitigate the Box 1 disadvantage of this measure (i.e. an unexpected 15% tax increase for up to 3 years may warrant some kind of gross salary increase);
  • ask your employer to pay the international school fees for the duration of the original (8 year) period if the employer has not yet done so (temporarily decreasing your gross income with this amount is even to your tax benefit);
  • notify Migrantic that you want to be included in our upcoming class action suit against the Dutch State under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) if the Bill would pass Parliament.

We sincerely hope that this proposal will be voted down by our Parliament, but if it will not we are prepared to litigate the issue. However, in the past the Supreme Court has been very reluctant in invoking the  ECHR if a court ruling would have a substantial negative effect on the Dutch budget, but it is certainly worth a try.