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Income tax filing for newcomers to the Netherlands

Income tax filing for newcomers to the Netherlands

Filing your tax return is hard enough as it is without it also being in Dutch! Blue Umbrella makes it easy via their online questionnaire in plain English. Here's what you can expect if you do it alone!

Filing your income tax return is a complex process, especially when you are new to a country and unfamiliar with its tax procedures and requirements. As a new arrival in the Netherlands, the process of filing your taxes may be even more puzzling. 

The first hurdle you need to take as a newcomer is figuring out how to file your tax return. You may have heard that the Dutch tax office makes your life easy by letting you file your taxes online using the DigiD system. However, this is where we see a lot of frustration occurring.

New arrivals must complete a 59-page paper booklet

The first hurdle as a newcomer is figuring out how to file your tax return.

As a newcomer to this country, you cannot use the online DigiD tax filing system. And you'll most likely end up filling out the wrong form, as the system is designed for permanent resident taxpayers. What's even less helpful is the fact that you will not receive a warning or notification to cancel the online form.

The best case scenario is that the Dutch tax office will mail you a rejection of your tax return, accompanied by a request to fill out a 59-page paper booklet. The so-called "M form". All forms and guidance are in Dutch! So, you’re back to square one. 

Filing your taxes for a broken year

The main reason why you cannot use the DigiD system for online tax filing is that you, a newcomer, will most likely have a broken tax year. A full tax year runs from January 1 to December 31. A broken tax year starts on the date you arrived in the Netherlands, as only the period of time you have spent in the Netherlands is being asked for by the Dutch tax office.

Which date is correct: arrival or registration?

Now another complication starts. What is the exact immigration date you need to report to the Dutch tax office? It is important to get this date right, as your income tax return results depend on it. The legally correct date is the date when you actually arrived in the Netherlands.

Your actual arrival date is initially not considered by the Dutch tax office.

Of course, you may say! Whilst this is true, this is not how the Dutch tax office approaches this matter. The tax office uses the date of registration at your municipality ("gemeente") or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This date may deviate significantly from your actual arrival date. If you arrived in the Netherlands by the end of, say, 2017, you may end up filing for both 2017 and 2018 with the incorrect tax form, according to the Dutch tax office.

Your actual arrival date is initially not considered by the Dutch tax office. If you use this date, expect the Dutch Tax Office to reject your tax return, as it deviates from the registration date at your municipality or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

This can be later corrected via an appeal procedure, which requires you to establish direct contact with the Dutch tax office. If you use the date that you registered at your municipality, you avoid the aforementioned discrepancies from happening in the first place.

What about sole traders or sole proprietary business owners?

On top of the first 59-page paper booklet, sole traders or sole proprietary business owners are also required to complete an additional 24-page booklet in Dutch. The correct immigration date matters when filing your business income tax return.

Irrespective of your date of arrival (or departure), Blue Umbrella can file your income tax return completely online using a plain English tax questionnaire. All you need to do is sign up online on and start the online questionnaire! For any remaining questions please do not hesitate to contact Blue Umbrella.

Viviënne

Author

Viviënne Wormsbecher

Viviënne Wormsbecher is a tax adviser with Blue Umbrella. Viviënne finished her bachelors in law and is specialized in the field of international tax law. Viviënne regularly provides workshops...

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