The maatschap, also known as a "group practice" or "commercial partnership", is a business structure where self-employed individuals work alongside other professionals in the same field under a shared name. This structure is useful for certain professions such as hairdressers, dentists, lawyers, architects or farmers.
Defining aspects of a maatschap are that partners are considered more or less equal, that every partner contributes something to the partnership (such as goods or labour) and that the financial gain is shared between partners. It is not possible for one partner to receive all the profits.
From a liability perspective, in a maatschap, partners may not make commitments on behalf of others. They must first either reach a joint agreement or issue a power of attorney.
The maatschap contract
It’s not legally compulsory to sign a partnership contract when setting up a maatschap. However a contract is strongly advised to avoid misunderstandings between partners and as evidence of business relations for the Belastingdienst.
The partnership contract can either be created independently or via a notary and usually sets out:
- Who the partners are and what they each contribute (labour, capital etc.).
- Profit distribution based on contributions.
- Allocation of responsibilities and authorised powers (on day-to-day or managerial levels).
The maatschap in a nutshell
- Establishment: free (small KvK fee) / partnership contract
- Capital required: none
- Governance: partners
- Liability: private if partnership fails its obligations
- Social security: no sickness or unemployment benefits
- Taxation: BTW / income tax / payroll tax (for employees)
- Tax breaks: yes if requirements are met