WHO ARE THE UNITED EXPATS OF THE NETHERLANDS?
UENL began as a grassroots organization in April 2018 and formed an official legally-represented Stichting in August 2018. UENL is managed by four members – all of whom are living and working in the Netherlands, UENL was formed in response to a proposal of the Dutch Ministry of Finance to reduce the term length of 30% tax ruling. Since its inception, UENL has been encouraging the government to stand by the deal they made with current recipients of the 30% tax ruling so that any changes apply to future expats, not to those already here. With more than 40,000 signatures on our Change.org petition and global and local media coverage, UENL continues to raise awareness of the consequences of this proposal. As of 18 September, UENL will be leading the effort to assess the legality of the government’s decision to exclude a transitional period from the 2019 budget proposal. More information about this effort is available on our GoFundMe Page. In all of our efforts, UENL consistently works to highlight how this proposal will dramatically affect the lives of expats and their families and is calling upon the government to stand by their word. Afspraak is Afspraak.
What does it mean tHAT UENL IS A stichting?
A Stichting (foundation) is a business entity most commonly used for social or non-profit organisations. A stichting requires a deed of incorporation which is drafted by a notary and must be registered in the Register of Commerce or "Kamer van Koophandel" (UENL KVK # 72294639). As a Stichting, UENL must be accountable for all of its work. This includes ensuring financial transparency as well as ensuring that all supported activities are legal. Commercial activities and financial transactions are only allowed if they comply with the purpose of the foundation and are generally taxed unless the Dutch Tax Service declares the foundation to be an “Algemeen Nut Beogende Instelling”, (ANBI, "institution for general benefit”). UENL is not presently an ANBI (although we plan to consult with the
Belastingdienst to assess eligibility).This means that, at the moment, UENL is subject to tax and donations to UENL are not tax deductible. Board members are volunteer and their only remuneration is restricted to reasonable “out of pocket” expenses (e.g., train tickets). Board members of a Stichting can be held liable, civilly as well as criminally. Given this, UENL exercises caution when determining whether to support external events as the responsibility of such events may be linked to UENL.
Who has supported UENL in their strategy development?
UENL council members are by no means experts on the Dutch political and economic climate. As such, it was important that we found people that are experts in both the political and economic climate of the Netherlands as well as the broader EU context. UENL has received advice from professors of law and economics, law firms, individuals with Parliamentary experience, unions, lobbyists, and members of the UENL community. Together, all of this information was used to develop and evaluate the UENL strategy.
On your GoFundMe page, UENL states that the next step in its strategy is a legal opinion. Why?
Presently, there is only a proposal up for consideration. The decision is not yet law. This means we have the opportunity for amendment. But, Parliament needs a reason to make this amendment. Here is where the legal opinion comes in. During October/November, Parliament will extensively debate the tax plan. We have reason to believe that the proposal for the 30Rule, without transitional measures, may be illegal. In fact, the Raad van State (independent legal advisors for the government) also questions the legality claim of the minister. With support of the legal opinion, UENL aims to (potentially) show that the lack of transitional measures is illegal. In doing so, we hope to convince Parliament to amend the current proposal.
We understand that some members of the community would like to see other forms of legal action started immediately. Because the law is still a proposal, any legal actions taken at this stage will most likely have no merit as this is an ongoing legislative process. This has been unanimously confirmed by the legal parties that UENL has spoken with. UENL acknowledges that there is no perfect decision in these complex situations. Working with all information available at this stage, UENL has selected the process that seems most likely to yield the best possible outcome. We believe that the legal opinion offers us the best opportunity to encourage Parliament to amend the tax plan before it becomes law.
How did you select the law firm for the legal opinion?
We began the selection process by defining the Scope of Engagement and by researching well-established and reputable law firms that could potentially fulfill the role. The first screening identified three potential law firms with two particularly suitable. These two were placed on our ‘short-list’.
Following this, we initiated the bidding process whereby the two short-listed law firms received a Request for Proposal (RFP) in order to solicit offers to draft the legal opinion. The RFP included, amongst other things, a section to provide process transparency and indicated the following key award criteria:
● Cost of the Legal Opinion
● Availability to enter into a Lump Sum Contract (in other words, a pre-agreed single-fix and firm-price) which was necessary given reliance on crowd-funding.
● Past experience with similar cases (with supporting references)
● Compliance with delivery timeline.
● Fairness in their Terms and Conditions
● Prestige of law firm to maximize impact during the Parliamentary debate
This ultimately led to the selection of Stibbe N.V., which was announced publicly on 28 September 2019.
The UENL GoFundMe campaign raised more money than was originally needed. How will UENL use these additional funds?
First, thank you to *every single person* that contributed and/or shared the UENL GoFundMe campaign. It’s because of this effort that we even have the opportunity to answer this fair question. As we have noted on the GoFundMe Page, we need approximately 20000 EUR for the legal opinion. We also expect some other costs associated with the legal opinion (e.g., translation services; GoFundMe fees) but these exact costs are still being finalized.
After that, the remaining money will be used to cover UENL operational and legal costs (e.g. including but not limited to legal action, consultation with subject matter experts, marketing campaigns, etc.) Following this, any remaining funds will be allocated to efforts that align with UENL’s mission to support and fight for expats living here in the Netherlands.
What is the anticipated timeline aFTER THE BUDGET PRESENTATION ON September 2018?
Since UENL’s original start in April 2018, we have been working to ensure our voices are heard by the Ministry, politicians, the media, unions, companies, and more. And this has worked. We had the opportunity to deliver our petition in person to Parliament, have received significant media attention, and have watched as unions and companies have made public statements in favour of a transition period. That said, our efforts at diplomacy have not lead to transitional regulation yet.
Looking ahead, our next step is the legal opinion which we will provide to Parliament prior to their debates. The schedule of debates, as we know it, is posted below:
Nov 05: Finance Committee Oral Debate (Questions)
Nov 09: Finance Committee Oral Debate (Answers)
Nov 13-15: Tweede Kamer Plenary Debate Tax Plan
Nov 19: Eerste Kamer Technical Briefing Tax Plan
Nov 20: Eerste Kamer General Finance Debate
Dec 04: Eerste Kamer Written Consultation
Dec 11: Eerste Kamer Plenary Debate Tax Plan
If our efforts are unsuccessful, UENL will look at all options and determine whether legal action in court is a reasonable next step. The legal opinion will help us identify how viable a lawsuit will be.
I own various form of assets (e.g. real estate, stock options, savings, both in The Netherlands and abroad). What will happen if 30% ruling will abruptly end?
As much as UENL would like to support the community in this regard, tax advisory services fall beyond the Stichting purpose and objective. Tax rules depends on your specific case, country of origin, tax treaties between countries, and more. From a logical standpoint, we would expect that, should the 30% ruling abruptly end, the affected individual will be subject to regular Dutch taxation with associated obligations as non-30% ruling beneficiaries. UENL’s recommendation is to consult a tax advisor for your specific situation.
On Monday, 15 October, the government announced that it plans to include some form of transition for recipients of the #30Rule? What does that mean for me?
Changes to 30Rule are a developing story and will not be fully known until the revised budget proposal is released (expected 26 October). As currently detailed, the term limit for the 30Rule is still proposed to be reduced to 5 years – however, the Coalition now proposes to include transitional measures for SOME recipients of the 30Rule. Specifically, individuals whose term began before 2016 should receive transitional measures. Individuals whose term began in 2016 or after are proposed to receive no transitional measures. See the following table for the anticipated transitional policy by year grant. We do not yet know what ‘transitional measures’ mean. The released letter only indicates that transitional measures will be included in the budget, but the details will not be available until the revised Belastingplan2019 is released.
Of note: While this decision signals receptiveness to UENL’s concerns and supporting legal arguments, it is only a step in the right direction. Our commissioned legal analysis, which was provided to Parliament the week before this announcement, clearly shows that the proposed legislation without full transition for every current recipient violates Dutch law. We stand by our belief that #aDEALisaDEAL and believe that the current proposal does not create the trustworthy government needed for strengthening the Dutch business climate. We will be reviewing the revised Belastingplan2019 as soon as we have it, and then continue to execute our strategy with renewed determination. With this revised proposal, we have moved the needle and will do our best to keep moving it.