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I have savings that I want to put into a deposit to buy a house in the Netherlands. I heard that saving above 21K is taxable at 1.2%. Is this true or is it exempted if you have the 30% tax ruling?

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It's true that savings above 21K are taxed at 1.2%, this is called “box 3 inkomsten”. The logic is that savings and other assets are assumed to bring you 4% interest and you have to pay 30% tax on this (fictional) income, no matter the effective interest rate. That's the general case.

Now, there is indeed an exception for people who benefit from the 30% ruling. You can choose to have a “partial non-resident status”, in which case investments and savings (assets in box 2 and 3) are taxed following the rules for non-residents (whereas wages and other box 1 income are still taxed according to the regular rules, minus the 30% rebate). It means that you are only taxed on your assets and income sourced in the Netherlands. Additionally, there is an exception for bank accounts, life insurance policies, etc. so you would really only pay taxes on real estate and ownership of Dutch companies.

In any case, this is apparently something you have to apply for explicitly so it would make sense to hire a tax advisor to go over this and help you with the formalities. You are not supposed to simply put the money aside and do nothing, as far as I know.

Finally, the box 3 income tax is a tax on net wealth, and not directly a tax on money held in savings account or elsewhere. So you can also discount (some of?) your debts before computing the basis for the tax. I have no first-hand experience with this so I don't know how it works in details but that's something else to consider.

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  • I do have savings that I accumulate over 2.5 year in my Dutch bank account with is above 21K. Do I have to declare it or is it only taxed when I invest in it?
    – Vickey
    Nov 5 '15 at 9:01
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    @Vickey In principle, it doesn't matter, in the general case, you have to pay taxes on all your assets even if it's just money you keep in a regular no-interest “checking” account. I seem to recall that for a simple saving account the bank would take care of informing the tax office but I don't live in the Netherlands anymore and I am not sure. Also, it seems I misunderstood the rules, apparently under the 30% ruling you only have to pay box 3 income tax on real estate. And note that this is a tax on net wealth, if you have some debt you can discount them too. I added all that to my answer.
    – Gala
    Nov 5 '15 at 9:41
  • On the topic of net wealth, you can indeed remove debts from this amount, however only once you get over 2900 euro (total), so assuming you have 5000 debt here and 2000 there, your net wealth is reduced by 4100 as far as the law is concerned. This could indeed bring you under the taxed amount. Nov 7 '15 at 10:09
  • So I am planning to buy a house in the Netherlands, does this amount come under as debt that I owe so negativity on my saving? I am planning to use my saving on the costs of buying the house and to put a deposit (borrowing 95% of the value) so before the end of this year, it will be bellow 21K
    – Vickey
    Nov 11 '15 at 9:20
  • @Vickey I most likely don't know the answer but I am also not sure I understand the question. I thought you were putting some cash aside in preparation for the day you would buy a house. Once you buy the house, the rules are completely different, there are all sorts of tax advantages, especially if you have a mortgage and it's your main residence. My understanding is that you would only need to worry about box 3 income tax for a holiday home or a house you have paid up entirely.
    – Gala
    Nov 11 '15 at 10:08

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