In the Netherlands, entrepreneurs must file Value Added Tax returns (btw aangifte) with the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration. You do this on a monthly, quarterly or yearly basis (usually quarterly). You must submit your VAT returns digitally and on time, to avoid a fine. In your VAT return, you register the amount of VAT you have paid and received, to reach the amount you must pay. It is also possible to get a tax refund.
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Who submits a VAT return?
Is your business registered with the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce? And have you been issued with a VAT identification and VAT number? You most likely have to file VAT returns. There are some exceptions: for example, if goods or services are exempt from VAT, such as childcare and the services of funeral directors, you cannot charge VAT. Usually this also means deduction of paid VAT is not possible.
Non-resident businesses doing business in the Netherlands may have to file a VAT return as well. Use the Registration of Non-Resident Entrepreneurs Aid to find out if registration in your case is necessary. If so, you must use the Application for VAT identification number for foreign entrepreneurs form (PDF).
Filing your first VAT return
Once you have registered your company with the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce (resident companies) or with the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration (non-resident companies), the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration will send you information about your liability for VAT. They will issue you with:
- a VAT identification number, to use for correspondence and invoices to your customers,
- a VAT number, to use for your dealings with the Tax Administration.
This two-number system is necessary to avoid privacy breaches, as the VAT number may contain the citizen service number of the owner or director of the company.
You will also receive a letter telling you how and when to file your VAT returns, as well as a username and a password for filing digitally. You might have to file your first return on paper; the Tax and Customs Administration will inform you.
Filing your VAT return online
You file your VAT returns digitally online. There are several ways of doing this:
- you can log in at the Ondernemersportaal on the Tax and Customs Administration website (Dutch only);
- if you are a sole proprietor, you can login at Mijn Belastingdienst Zakelijk on the Tax and Customs Administration website (Dutch only);
- you can also file your return using software applications from commercial parties. Be aware that the software must comply with Standard Business Reporting (SBR);
- you can also hire the services of a tax representative, who will conduct all your dealings with the Tax and Customs Administration on your behalf.
Monthly, quarterly or yearly?
The Tax and Customs Administration will notify you how often you have to file a VAT return: monthly, quarterly or yearly. The most common frequency is quarterly. If you want to file your returns on a monthly or yearly basis, it is possible in certain conditions. Send a letter to the Tax and Customs Administration to arrange this.
Make sure to submit and pay on time
Always make sure to file your return on time. You calculate the amount you have to pay or receive in your tax return form. If you have to pay, you have to transfer the money directly, before the VAT return due date. You will not receive a notice of assessment telling you that you have to pay or are due to receive money.
You will not receive a notification to file, this is your own responsibility. To help you, the BTW Alert app (in Dutch) can notify you when your VAT return is due. If you fail to file your VAT return or pay in time, you will receive an additional assessment.
Filling out the VAT return
You use the VAT return to declare the VAT you have charged to your customers. You also declare the amount of VAT you have paid to your suppliers. You also file VAT that has been reverse-charged to you. You either pay or receive the balance. There are several tariffs and exemptions. Make sure you’re using the correct tariff. For some expenses, like personal expenses and expenses made for business gifts (of over €227), the VAT is non-deductible. In your final VAT return of the year, you have to declare the VAT paid for the private use of:
- Business car
- Gas, water, electrics and phone
- Business goods
The explanation to the digital VAT return (pdf, in Dutch) tells you which deliveries of goods and services to declare in your VAT return. It also explains how to calculate VAT and fill in the return form. There is an Englsih section with explanatory notes to the VAT return for entrepreneurs not based in the Netherlands.
Are you eligible for the Small Businesses Scheme (KOR)?
Entrepreneurs with an annual turnover that does not exceed €20,000.- can participate in the new small businesses scheme (kleineondernemersregeling, KOR). To participate, you have to apply by filling in a form and send it to the Tax Administration 4 weeks before the start of your next filing period. If your annual turnover does not exceed €1,800.-, you can simply use the scheme without applying beforehand and without the mandatory 3-year period of using the scheme.
Exempt from VAT requirements
Are you exempt from administrative VAT requirements (in Dutch)? Then you participate in the small businesses scheme automatically. If you want to stop participating, you must notify the Tax Administration. You can do so at any time.
Do you have to file a VAT return for a previous year?
Are you still due to file a VAT return for a year prior to 2020? And is the amount of VAT you have to pay the Dutch Tax Administration between €1,345 and €1,883? Then you may still be eligible for the old small businesses scheme.
Find out if you are eligible for special VAT arrangements
The Netherlands applies special VAT arrangements to:
- Profit margin arrangement: if you deal in second-hand goods, you may be eligible for this arrangement. It means you only have to pay VAT on the difference between the sale price and the purchase price.
- Travel agency arrangement: If your services are eligible for the travel agency arrangement, you pay VAT on the profit margin for travel services, instead of on the total price.
- Reverse-charge arrangement: Under the reverse-charge arrangement, you do not charge VAT, but reverse-charge it to your buyer.
VAT return for services to or from abroad
Do you supply services to a foreign country or purchase services from abroad? You may have to declare part of the VAT paid or charged for these services in the Netherlands and part in the country you are doing business with. You can find more information on the Tax and Customs Administration website (in Dutch).
Correct mistakes in your next VAT return
Mistakes happen; for instance, you may have overlooked an invoice in your latest VAT return. It’s not a problem. You can correct the mistake in your next VAT return, if the difference in the amount you have to pay or are due to receive is less than €1,000. If it is more, you’ll have to file an additional return, a so-called Suppletie-aangifte. You can find the form in the encrypted (Dutch only) entrepreneurs’ environment on the website of the Tax and Customs Administration.