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A Belastingdienst Visit for ParapluInfo

A visit from the tax man. Convention prep for the UK Web Comix Things. Research. New Website. Language classes. Seriously it goes on and on. But you’re not here to listen to me complain. Just suffice it to say it has been a particularly busy couple of weeks.

Friday I met with a couple of gentlemen from the Belastingdienst at my new business’ office (i.e. my living room) to discuss setting up the administration of the business. I didn’t actually know that they did this before I registered, but it turns out that the tax office regularly checks in on new business owners to make sure their T’s are getting dotted and I’s crossed. The idea is that this early visit will prevent business owners from failing future audits.

The meeting was quite straight forward. They sat down, kindly spoke in English with me, and I showed them what I’d already done to comply with Dutch tax regulations. After the meeting I should receive a report about my status and what steps I need to take to be compliant. Of course the report is in Dutch, but I asked them to email it to me as well and they were quite willing to do so.

Setting up Administration

Actually setting up an administration for an eenmanszaak is pretty straight forward. At its most basic, you must retain records of every penny that comes in and out of your business for 7 years. It seems that your business number (dossiernummer on all the paperwork) needs to be on nearly all paperwork you create, although that may not be strictly true. Also, the tax office representatives also indicated that all Work Proposals I make, even those not agreed to, need to be saved. I’ve got a basic system lined up and the they seemed to think I was doing the right thing.

Invoices & Purchase Orders

Invoices are always numbers sequentially (restarting the sequence every year if you include the year in the number) and have to include the business’ dossier-number and VAT/BTW (its BTW in the Netherlands/VAT everywhere else) number. Not a problem. I had already started doing this with the few invoices I’ve sent out and frankly it makes sense. The parts of a standard invoice should be:

  • Date
  • Invoice Number
  • Your business information including Dossiernummer and VAT/BTW number
  • Your client’s business information including VAT/BTW number (unless the client isn’t a business than simply a name and address will do).
  • Description of service or product and amount to be paid.
  • VAT/BTW amount broken out

See. Pretty easy.

The more confusing aspect is purchases made for your business. If you make a business purchase, you can usually subtract some amount of the VAT/BTW you paid from the amount you owe every quarter to the Belastingdienst. The tax office representatives said that receipts were not enough to make a claim; and instead I needed an official “invoice”. I think they meant a purchase order. For larger purchases this seems sensible, but for smaller purchases (of which I will probably be making many) it seems quite unwieldy. Hopefully I’ll find a workable solution soon because I want to be able to claim some of that money back.

Belastingdienst Online

I also learned that I am responsible for making VAT/BTW tax payments on a quarterly basis (like most Dutch businesses). These payments are actually done through an online section of the Belastingdienst’s website set aside for business owners. And is in Dutch of course.

I’ll hopefully be talking to an accountant soon to help me work out dealing with this aspect of business ownership. I am baffled by how and when to apply VAT/BTW to my services and, since there is so much variety, the tax office representatives couldn’t give me much help.

Now I just have to wait for the report to come and take the time to puzzle the Dutch out. All in all I’m pretty happy they made the visit. I just hope this doesn’t put me on the shortlist for future audits. Its not like ParapluInfo is going to be big business.

Income Tax image by alancleaver_2000 via Flickr. Licensed via Creative Commons Attribution License

4 Responses to “A Belastingdienst Visit for ParapluInfo”

  1. Star says:

    This whole process is fascinating to me.

  2. Amanda says:

    I wish I saw it more as fascinating than frustrating.

  3. Dave Hampton says:

    Congratulations on passing the review! It’s no small thing when the procedures are so precise. I’ve found that it takes about a half day a week to maintain the system; penalties are aboout 50 euro an offense if you fall behind (yes, it happened to me). If you need to borrow / adapt any of the recordkeeping / letterhead bits I”m using, I’m happy to share.

  4. Mom says:

    Wow Mandy, you have learned so much about busines this year. I am even more impressed that you did it with a mixture of Dutch and English.

    Never thought you’d be a business ceo. :)