I just found out about the campaign you and your associates are running to oppose the planned changes to the 30% ruling, and I was wondering if there was any way I can get involved besides donating to the GoFundMe. I know that the upcoming debate will determine whether or not a transition period will be added to the plan, and the outcome of that is of extreme importance to me. I am in what I think is a unique situation, and a change in the ruling without a transition would essentially force me to abandon my job and move back to the states on short notice, so I’m wondering if there’s any testimony I could give that might help bring some people in parliament around to our side.
As a bit of background, I studied in the Netherlands previously, from 2009-2012. As a US citizen, I was not receiving any kind of subsidy, I was not allowed to work to finance my studies, and I had to pay the maximum level of tuition (EU students paid, on average, 25% of what I paid). Upon graduating, I returned to the US and worked in the US government for several years. In late 2016, I started to explore my options for a next step in my career.
I’m a data scientist, a profession that involves software engineering and statistics; it’s both a lucrative and sought-after skillset, so I didn’t have to wait long to get several competitive job offers. Of the most attractive options, one was from a major Dutch multinational company in Amsterdam, and another was from a large corporation in the US. The US offer was nearly double the Dutch company's offer in terms of compensation, but after adjusting for both cost of living and, critically, the 30% ruling (which the Dutch company used as a selling point), the offers were competitive. I enjoyed my study time in the Netherlands, so I went with the Dutch company's offer over the competing offer. My employer was very happy with my decision, as they had been advertising for my function for nearly 2 years to no avail. In the time since being hired, I’ve gotten consistently glowing performance reviews, and my boss has explicitly expressed that they were satisfied with their decision to hire and relocate me.
Upon arrival, I applied for the ruling. The government made the determination that, due to my previous stay in the Netherlands, I would be eligible for the ruling for 5 years instead of 8. I didn’t particularly like this decision, especially since I paid higher tuition and was not eligible to work alongside my studies while I was here, but I accepted it, as 5 years was sufficient time to make my planned progress on student loans. After 5 years, I would be in better financial shape, I would hopefully have gotten promotions, and if I were still even living here, I would be in good shape to take the pay cut. Most importantly, though, a 5-year horizon is more than enough time to make financial plans.
The government’s planned cuts would really pull the rug out from under me. Living in Amsterdam is expensive, I don’t have the knowledge or the network that locals have and can capitalize on, and the fact that my family and friends (including my girlfriend) live an ocean away means that I’m spending an outsized portion of my income just on plane tickets to visit and attend important family events like weddings. My salary with the 30% ruling is sufficient to pay my rent, provide for my travel, and make the headway I need to make on my student loans, but not much more than that. I’m certainly not saving money or living an extravagant lifestyle. If the cut happens as Mr. Snel has proposed, I will experience a 20% net pay cut in April. In order to stay in the Netherlands at that point, my employer will need to increase my salary significantly or I will have to move into a significantly cheaper accommodation, likely outside of Amsterdam. My employer has already said that they cannot compensate me for the loss of the 30% ruling, and housing prices are such that I would probably end up having to move to someplace significantly cheaper (e.g. Almere) absent a salary bump.
Of course, considering that I have an in-demand skillset, I’m not inclined to accept a large pay cut and reduction in lifestyle quality, so if the proposed changes go through, I will be leaving the Netherlands in April. This will leave my employer with a large hole in the team that they have previously had a hard time filling, and from an economic perspective, the Dutch government will lose out on the taxes I would have been paying on the 70% of my income that would have been taxed over the next 3 years. The whole idea seems counter-intuitive, predicated on the idea that a lot of people will not actually leave if the changes go through. Well, I can say unequivocally that I will leave if these changes happen. The simple fact is that Dutch salaries are not competitive when cost of living is taken into account. If they want to bring in-demand technical talent to their shores, they either need an incentive like 30%, or they need to increase wages overall.