Being a freelancer
in the Netherlands
Avoid becoming an employee!
A freelancer in the Netherlands is a self-employed professional. In the Netherlands, this is called a ZZP’er (zelfstandige zonder personeel). Freelancers don't have any staff and they work for a number of different customers. Also, freelancers bear all risks and expenses. The most common business structure is the Dutch ‘’eenmanszaak’’.
Being a freelancer in the Netherlands can be very lucrative because you are able to benefit from a number of tax breaks for example;
self-employed deduction (you have to work at least 1225 hours in a year to get this deduction);
small business profit exemption.
Requirements for freelancers in the Netherlands
Becoming a freelancer in the Netherlands requires you to have:
A valid residence permit;
Business registration with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce;
A Dutch tax/VAT number
An administration conform Dutch legislation;
(preferably) Multiple clients;
In order to start a business in the Netherlands, a residence permit is required. Please see our other articles for more information regarding this subject.
Register at the Dutch Chamber of Commerce
Your business has to be registered at the Dutch Chamber of Commerce. This step also requires choosing a legal form, the most common legal forms for freelancers are:
A Dutch B.V. (for freelancers with a high turnover or in branches where limited liability is wanted)
V.O.F. (for freelancers who are working together)
INCO can help you by choosing and registering your business at the Chamber of Commerce.
Taxes in the Netherlands
When you conduct business in the Netherlands there are different types of tax that are applicable:
Income Tax (for eenmanszaak and V.O.F.)
Corporate income tax (for doing business through a B.V.)
Recently there have been some legislative changes regarding labour relationships. These relationships are important because the Dutch tax authorities determines whether you are independent or not. When freelancers are not independent enough (for example; when you only have one client) the Dutch tax authorities may determine that you are not a freelancer, but are employed with your only client.
This is because the Dutch tax Authorities need to determine who is financially responsible for the freelancer’s social security premiums.
Since the first of May 2016, the system of the DBA contracts is applicable to freelancers. Under this law, freelancers and their clients are obliged to sign a contract defining their working relationship.
The Dutch Tax Authorities have issued template contracts that are free to use.
As we mentioned above it is important to have enough clients to become a freelancer. But how much clients are enough to proof that you are a freelancer?
Freelancers have to meet the requirements for entrepreneurship. The most important requirements are:
You have to conduct business in the course of trade;
Profit has to be expected;
The most important evidence proving that you are an entrepreneur is having multiple clients. Whether the Dutch Tax Authorities are convinced if you are a freelancer or an employee depends on which employee of the Dutch tax Authorities is handling your case. This is because they are free to interpret the rules in their own way. A believable story that more clients will come in the following years also adds to the credibility. To prove this credibility some more it is helpful to issue quotations to possible new clients, so these quotations can be provided to the tax inspector who is handling your case.
The safe amount of clients, in general, is three.
We are aware that, sometimes, it is difficult to obtain more than one client in your first year. It is possible to be a freelancer with only one client in the first year. However, this requires a good story and a lot of negotiation with the Dutch Tax Authorities.
Please allow us to help you regarding this subject. Because when you have acted as a freelancer and the Dutch Tax Authorities determine that you are not a freelancer, you have to pay back the tax breaks you have profited from. Next to this payroll taxes and social securities are due, these can be recovered from you and from your client.
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