I’ve written about the Dutch 30% tax ruling before, a topic foremost in most expats’ minds during the annual tax period.
This year the topic gained the status of national debate when the junior tax minister, Frans Weekers, considered introducing an income threshold of €50,000 a year on the tax ruling, so that ‘wok chefs and pipefitters’ (his words) would no longer qualify. In other words to stop local European workers coming into the country whilst living over the border and spending their tax benefits elsewhere.
This included rules about where the tax beneficiaries should live ‘to stop cross-border workers from benefitting they would have to live 150km from the border’. Presumably 150km from the border into the Netherlands. A 150km exclusion zone for addresses beyond the Dutch borders. I’d like to see that policed.
While everyone focused on stopping local Europeans trying to play the system they forgot, in their zeal, that this would also include international teachers moving here from all over the world and who currently qualify for the tax advantage. They teach the children of the highly skilled workers the Dutch are trying to attract, along with foreign investment.
This new ruling was set to impact most international teachers in the country, having a devastating effect on teachers already here and recruitment in the future. Fortunately, this was not lost on the international schools and initiatives were immediately started to discuss the situation with the Dutch tax authorities.
The international schools, along with our own American School of The Hague, with the support of organizations and individuals, began a campaign to convince government officials of the negative impact of this proposed change.
It’s not difficult to see the problem. If there aren’t well qualified, committed teachers in the international schools, employees with families are not going to move here. Period.
Fortunately, the local mayors where international schools are situated, along with representatives from all major political parties, various government ministries (finance, foreign affairs, education and economic affairs), global companies and foreign investment agencies understood the problem immediately.
No schools, no expats, no money in the local economy. It’s not rocket science.
Unsurprisingly, an amendment to the proposed legislation was approved, reducing the planned levels of income so international teachers would qualify. However, the Dutch being, well, Dutch, decided to reduce the life of the tax break from 10 to 8 years (although current teachers will be allowed to retain the original 10 years).
It’s commendable the Dutch authorities reacted so positively once the impact of their proposals were fully outlined, but sad so many individuals and organisations (expat and Dutch) had to be mobilised to fight the legislation in the first place. Particularly when anyone can see what would happen to the economy without teachers.
The 30% tax ruling is an incentive to attract highly educated and qualified individuals. The priority for these people is good education for their children within the international systems. Pity someone didn’t think that through to start with.
However, a huge thank you to all those (national and international) who recognised the importance of this issue and did something about it. International teachers are a breed apart – motivated, committed and understanding of the nomadic lifestyle of the children they teach.
I’m particularly grateful for those teachers who teach here in Holland – if I was an international teacher you’d have to offer me some great incentives to teach here when there’s a whole world out there to choose from.
Give me palm trees and sunshine every time.