Income tax

How does the tax system work?

Income tax

The Dutch tax system can be difficult to understand for an expat. Do I need a tax number? How is the income tax deducted? What is the 30% ruling? All these questions are being answered below. 

When you live in the Netherlands or receive income from the Netherlands, you are required to pay taxes. It is important to know whether you are a resident in the Netherlands or not. If so, you are considered as a resident taxpayer and otherwise as a non-resident taxpayer. However, non-residents can be treated as resident taxpayers. If you have any questions or need help with filling out your tax return, it’s advisable to obtain assistance from professionals.

Tax number

The tax number is replaced by the citizen service number (burgerservicenummer, BSN) which also serves as a social security number. To receive a BSN you have to register with a municipality. For more information about registering please go to the government website .

Income tax

Persons who are receiving income are required to pay income tax. The employer that pays the wages withholds the tax and pays it to the Tax Administration. These taxes consist of one amount made up of taxes and social security contributions. The income tax takes into account the origin of the income and distinguishes three categories which are known as boxes. The income in each of the three boxes is taxed at a different rate.

  • Box 1: income from profits, employment and home ownership. This includes wages, pensions, social benefits, company car, and WOZ value of owner-occupied property
  • Box 2: income from substantial interest in a company
  • Box 3: taxable income from savings and investments

Income tax return

Even though wage tax has already been withheld from your gross salary (as an advance levy on your income tax) it is usually still necessary to complete an annual income tax return to balance out the already-paid wage tax with other financial aspects like your partner’s income, a mortgage, other income sources or tax deductions such as study or health-care costs. In the Netherlands, the fiscal year runs from 1 January to 31 December. In the first week of February, tax authorities will begin to send out income tax return forms. You can file your taxes digitally via the Tax Administration’s website (Belastingdienst). However, the program is only available in Dutch and you will first need to apply for a DigiD . The other option is to enlist the help of a tax accountant or advisor.

30% ruling

The 30% ruling is a tax advantage for foreign employees working in the Netherlands. This ruling can be seen as a compensation for the expenses that a foreign employee has by working outside of his or her home country. If you want to know if you are eligible for this ruling go to the Tax Administration's  website.

More information

If you have any questions about taxes in the Netherlands, contact the Tax and Customs Administration by going to their website 

The Tax Information Line for Non-resident Tax Issues is intended for private individuals and businesses located abroad but liable to pay tax in the Netherlands. You can also call this number if you live in the Netherlands and you do not speak Dutch.

  • (055) 538 5385 from inside the Netherlands or
  • +31 55 538 5385 from outside the Netherlands.

Be aware that it is not possible to email the Tax and Customs Administration in English

Further reading

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