Dutch government plans to increase VAT for many recreational activities

Dutch government plans to increase VAT for many recreational activities

The four parties that came together to form the Dutch cabinet in 2024 have announced that they plan to increase VAT on accommodation, books, concerts, museums, theatre performances, and other events and attractions in the Netherlands. The sport sector will also be impacted by this. This would see an increase in the tax rate for these goods and services, from the current rate of 9 percent to the upper rate of 21 percent. 

Dutch sales tax increase for many goods and services

The PVV, VVD, NSC and BBB coalition parties have stated that this increase should bring in a minimum of 1,2 billion euros annually starting in 2026. Not all recreational activities will be impacted though, as the 9 percent rate will still be used for campsites, cinemas and some other goods and services. 

"Cinemas have the advantage that an agreement was concluded years ago about low VAT on cinema tickets," said Boris van der Ham, chairperson of the Dutch Association of Cinemas and Film Theatres (NVBF). The aforementioned deal stated that in exchange for a lower VAT rate, Dutch cinemas and film distributors would invest in Dutch film productions for the general public. 

Tax price hikes for books and live performances 

With VAT on books set to increase to 21 percent, booksellers and publishers are worried that there will be a decrease in book sales. Despite the acknowledgement in the coalition agreement that reading is important and that reading skills are under pressure, with a possible tax hike on books, it is being questioned how literacy is being made a priority. 

In a joint statement the Dutch book distribution group CPNB, publishers association GAU and booksellers association KbB stated that the VAT increase is “an extremely bad measure. We must all ensure that reading remains accessible to everyone. An increase in the VAT rate does not fit in with this." 

Going out to a concert, festival or theatre could become a lot more expensive too. While the tax increase is intended to help entrepreneurs, the less attractive prices could cause a decrease in ticket sales. Both the Dutch event organisers’ association VVEM and the Dutch theatrical producer association VVTP want to enter discussions with the Dutch government in the hope of preventing the tax increase. “It is important to keep a great night out affordable for everyone,” argued a spokesperson from VVTP.

Dutch sports sector to see higher tax rate

While amateur associations are generally exempt from tax increases of 9 percent to 21 percent, commercial sports providers won't be. This means fitness locations such as gyms, swimming pools, riding schools, dance schools and padel courts will have higher prices to make up for the higher VAT rate. 

The Platform for Entrepreneurial Sports Providers (POS) has said this is disastrous for the health and well-being of all people in the Netherlands. "The proposed VAT increase will therefore hit millions of athletes in their wallets. And even worse: half a million Dutch people will stop exercising," said POS director Lodewijk Klootwijk.

Thumb image credit: Anton Gvozdikov /

Simone Jacobs


Simone Jacobs

Editor for the Netherlands at IamExpat Media. Simone studied Genetics and Zoology at the Univeristy of Pretoria in South Africa before moving to the Netherlands, where she has been working...

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