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Yeah, yeah, yeah…The Tax Man….

For some reason a visit from a tax specialist had the tune of Taxman by the Beatles running through my head all morning. It’s really too bad I couldn’t remember all the words.

Each of those forms are actually 2 booklets piled on each other.

I have to say that Dutch income tax forms are incredibly intimidating, which is why we hired Partners in Tax to run the paperwork for us this year. Each person who needs to pay taxes gets a thick blue envelope containing 4 thick booklets; two of forms and two of instructions, although with strict instructions to submit quickly.  Technically taxes were due at the end of April, but the Dutch tax office is apparently much more lenient that the U.S. IRS. We didn’t receive any forms in time, so our tax guy ordered them for us and the tax office granted us an automatic extension. Or maybe they don’t care. I’m not sure but the process just feels more casual.

Once the forms came in, the tax guy came to our place to fill them out so we were on hand to answer questions as he went through them. He made it look easy. Since I do the taxes in the family, I’m not too surprised; U.S. taxes at our stage aren’t generally too bad. Of course he is also a professional, I didn’t work in 2009, and we don’t own a house. And he can read Dutch. I’d consider doing them myself next year, but now that I have the business I think they might just be beyond my ability.

The one surprise what that there is electronic filing available in the Netherlands, but people like us couldn’t use it this year. Apparently you need to either 1) have lived in the country for the entire year, or 2) have lived outside the country for the entire year. If you straddled the year then you’re stuck with print filing. Hopefully I won’t have to deal with that scary-looking blue envelope in the mail again any time soon.

My IAmExpat Article is Live

I’m pleased to announce that my article entitled “Starting a Business in the Netherlands” is now live at I Am Expat, an excellent expat resource for people who have moved or plan to move to the Netherlands. Built on my experience setting up an Eenmanzaak, the article breaks down the registration process and what you can expect into several, easy to understand, steps.

  • Who Needs a Business?
  • Business Structures
  • ZZP or Freelance?
  • Register with the Trade Register
  • Registering with the Belastingdienst
  • Setting up your Business Administration
  • The Extra Stuff

Comments and questions are always welcome. Since writing this article I’ve learned even more about this crazy process.

If you are interested in having me write similar articles for your or your business, please contact me for a quote.

Extended Stay: Renewing my Spouse Residency Permit

Last year when we applied for residency permits, Dan was issued a 3 year stay. I only received 1 year. Such is the challenge of the accompanying spouse. I suppose the government assumes anything could happen in that year which might result in me leaving alone, but fortunately none of those things have come to pass and so I’ve embarked upon the process of renewing my residency permit.

Actually no one stands in lines. You always take a number. (Poorly drawn by me.)

According to the documentation I received from the IND, I am obliged to extend my residency before the current time runs out. To do this they recommend a three month lead time. I’ve already mussed that one up, but fortunately the University’s HR department is helping us through the process so that should speed things up. At least I’m not trying to do this in August. That would be awful.

If you can lean on the HR department of your spouse’s employer, than here are the things I’m told you need to provide:

  • Original GBA registration not older than 6 months. (Mine cost 11,10 euros at the Gemeente.)
  • A copy of your health insurance
  • A copy of your passport (I still have one from last year so we’re using it again.)
  • A copy of your permit (both sides)
  • A copy of your spouse’s work contract
  • A copy of your spouse’s salary slips. We were asked for the previous 3 months.
  • A Dutch passport photo. (I had leftovers from the driver’s license process that I never finished.)

The HR department at the University has asked my husband to bring all this in for a meeting and they will process the paperwork. I presume I will then need to make one or two trips up to the IND office in Eindhoven just as I did to get the original card.

If you can’t lean on your spouse’s employer for assistance (and if you can’t, they must be jerks), the IND provides the form you must complete on their website. If your Dutch is rough, you’ll want to get help because the form is 28 pages long and all in Dutch! Also the cost of extension is quite high, 288 euros. I’m expecting my husband’s employer to cover this expense for us.

I’ll keep you all posted on what happens next.

Luckily the cat’s don’t need a permit, although I suppose they also don’t get to vote. Trade offs.

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

Does this Theme Make my Sidebar Look Fat?

One month shy of Maastricht Minutiae’s anniversary, I’m proud to announce a significant upgrade to the website. After ages of work and flip-flopping between themes, I’ve moved us over to our very own hosting, which allows me a lot more flexibility. Check out a few of the new features:

Fresh Design

You have the brilliant designer at Elegant Themes to thank for this attractive and functional WordPress site design. I just added the Maastricht shield to the corner. This site should make featured articles and categories more accessible to you. If you’re looking for a place to eat, all you have to do is open the “Places Around Maastricht” category and click “Restaurants”. Want to search? The box is right there front and center for you.

And don’t forget to click the numbers on the big featured box to see what articles are being featured this week.

Fresh Content

After about a year of stumbling through living in Maastricht, its time to look back and write some serious series about expat red tape and resources. We’re still stumbling through, but with a bit more knowledge than we had before. Watch for new series about Knowledge Workers, Language Classes, Transportation, and More.

Subscribe by Email or RSS

I’ve had an RSS feed for a while, but now you can also subscribe via Email. This subscription will drop new posts in your email as soon as they publish. Just fill your email account into the form on the right hand side of the site. You cancel any time. While you’re looking, feel free to hunt me up in a few of the other places I hang my digital hat.

Reorganized Resources Page

I’ve completely reorganized my resources page and made it browsable by heading. Better yet, if you want to be included in this directory you can add your information for free. I’ll review each submission and add those that I consider relevant and valuable.

Random Expat Blog

Read all you can here? Click on the Random Expat Blog in the sidebar to see other perspectives (and some wiser heads). Or catch them all on the Resources Page. If you are an individual with an expat blog in the Netherlands, I’d like to add you. Please submit your website on the Resources page.

Missing Something? Tell me what you’d like to see at Maastricht Minutiae. Post below or drop me a note using the new contact page

Happy (almost) Anniversary!

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