It was December 2013 when I moved with my family to the Netherlands. I was headhunted by an agency on behalf of the largest telecommunication company in NL. Even with hundreds of IT professionals, still they had the urgent need for someone to resolve their critical and chronic performance issues. I am glad that I was able to use my IT skills (master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering, twenty years’ experience etc.) to provide the proper solutions. I have been working in the Netherlands ever since.
The 30% ruling played a significant role in our decision to move to the NL, instead of the UK for example, from where I also had attractive offers and speak the language. Till now, we felt that we made the right choice, even if we are dependent solely on my income. My wife’s skillset requires knowledge of the local language in order to be leveraged for employment. Moreover, she had to take care of our daughter, without any help of relatives or friends.
We trusted our deal and we invested in our future in the Netherlands. Our six year old daughter speaks perfect Dutch. We recently managed to buy a house. We were lucky to be chosen for a newly built one, despite the very difficult real estate market. We opted for the highest mortgage that we were offered with that plan that we could substantially lower it during the remaining years of the 30% policy. The plan was (we wonder if it still is?) that in the three and a half remaining years from now, the monthly payment of the mortgage would be lower and equal to a rental just as the 30% policy ended. Now, we feel that our plan is collapsing due to the recent decision of the Dutch government to break our deal. Some politicians have suggested that we can prepare ourselves in the remaining six months. But, we wonder how? Ironically, just as our house will be ready for move-in (December 2018), the government proposes to end the 30% rule for me – resulting in a high mortgage and comparably lower net income. Should this proposal be accepted, we anticipate we may have to sell the house that we have dreamed of for so long … a house we have not yet lived in … and eventually leave the country.
In Greece, our country of origin, one of the worst consequences of the crisis was the loss of hundreds of thousands of skillful and highly educated people. In contrast, the Netherlands created an environment to attract such highly skilled people – based heavily on the trust and the agreements they have earned over the years … the same agreements they are now considering to break. No country can afford losing its highly skilled residents. With that, I do not only mean us – the recruited expats - but also our children. Children like my daughter, who at the age of six, already speaks three languages and could have great future in this country.
Marcus, Business Executive, Switzerland
My Fiancée (at the time – now wife) and I arrived in Amsterdam in December 2011, as I was sent from Zurich to Netherlands to head up the Account Team of a multi-national FMCG supplier based in Amstelveen. I was given my 30% ruling in December 2011 for 10 years, and moving from Switzerland to the Netherlands meant a major pay cut, and without this ruling this move would not have been possible. My wife left her successful career in Moscow to come here to be with me.
I was granted the 30% ruling with the justification that I had been working in above market positions for my company and had set up global tools and strategies that we had the chance to now implement within the Netherlands. I was the sole person in the organization with this knowledge and experience at the level I was being recruited in the Netherlands. In 2016 I moved to another multi-national FMCG supplier based outside Eindhoven, and on re-applying my 30% was transferred to my new company as I had specific experience in the channel we work in. If I had known that my 30% ruling would be taken away from me I probably would have not made this move as there were other options possible at the time for me and my family.
But… we do not want to leave yet. All three of our wonderful children have been born in Amsterdam, and our eldest who is 5 proudly states that she is from Amsterdam. We have established ourselves here. We invested in a house in 2014 in Amstelveen. We have planned our life here in line with the ruling we received from the Dutch government, and we don’t want to go!
If the retroactive element of the proposed law comes into practice, this will impact my family and me immediately from January 2019. Our mortgage payments will become a challenge. Keeping our daughter in International School will be difficult, and ultimately we will likely have to move, years before we planned to and before we stop adding value here.
We were enjoying our lives on Sydney's Northern Beaches, when my husband received an offer from a company in Holland.
I was reluctant, I was happily employed, settled with a new baby, living in our forever home.
After much discussion we decided we would do it, only if it was not at a financial cost. With the cost of moving and setting ourselves up here and the 30% ruling we pretty much took a sideways step.
So, here we are. We have added to our family in the meantime, bought a house, renovated it, learned the language (some more successfully than others), undertaken voluntary work, become involved in my children's school / peuterspeelzaal and our community.
We love it here, love it! So much so, we had started to incorporate the end of the 30% ruling time frame into our planning.
But...now we find out, we may lose this as early as January, 2019.
We respect the Dutch Government's right to make changes, and let's face it, 5 years is generous. However, we were promised 8 years. We have made plans based on 8 years. We would have done things differently if it was 5 years.
Our little family is in turmoil. My husband feels responsible for uprooting us from our comfortable existence to move to the Netherlands. He is beside himself at the thought of disappointing us. He is hard on himself, angry and exhausted. He feels he let us down and he feels let down. I am worried about him.
We are fighting as a family, there is resentment from my side that we are now under this pressure, concern with the kids and their future and quite frankly, our family life is strained. Our lives are unsettled, our future uncertain and we are in limbo.
I wonder how many other families are under this pressure, too? How will this uncertainty (and perhaps eventual decision to affect current expats) affect relationships? What is the effect on individuals’ mental wellbeing or on society and business with the potential outcome of burnouts and depression?
This is more than about money. Much more.
Vishal, IT Professional, India
My name is Vishal, I’m 28 years old and moved here from India.
I moved to the Netherlands in March 2014. I am an expat and I was sent to Amsterdam from an Indian IT company to work for a bank. I have a Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Science.
Since I really like the culture, people and life style in the Netherlands I decided to extend my stay, which including buying a home with the help of a mortgage loan.
Next year, in March 2019, I will be completing my 5 years in the Netherlands. I am significantly concerned about my financial livelihood due to the 30% ruling laws – which is suddenly in flux, despite a promise to me in the contrary. I have planned my stay and future plans based on the initial 8 years 30% ruling, and am now faced with an uncertain financial future – and as such, have no idea how to proceed.
I joined the University of Amsterdam (UvA) in December 2011 as an Assistant Professor of Communication Science. I had spent the previous decade pursuing my PhD and postdoctoral studies in Communication Science with a focus on youth and the media studies, and was eager to share my knowledge and experience with my department as well as collaborate with some of the top youth and media scholars in the world. While my husband and I were anxious about packing up our home and moving to the Netherlands to start over again, our visits to the country convinced us that this was the right home for us. We were admittedly concerned that we would not be contributing to an American pension plan and that the costs of finding a small apartment as an expat may exceed our budget, but were assured that – via the 30% ruling – we would be fiscally secure. And indeed, we have been. We were able to contribute to an American pension plan, find a small (43m2) apartment that fits our needs and budget, pay our bills, and visit family twice per year in the US. Not an exorbitant life, but a happy one.
Fast forward to 2018. I am now a tenured Associate Professor (UHD1) at the UvA where I direct the Center for research on Children, Adolescents, and the Media. I have co-authored my first book, I have taught hundreds of students, serve as the coordinator of our Entertainment Communication program, and have had the privilege to serve as (co-)promoter for several PhD students. In short, I have found a way to share my skills and knowledge – and to develop and excel as a scholar – in a place that I am so happy to call home. My work brings me joy and fulfillment. But it’s not just my work. My life in Amsterdam is equally fulfilling. I run its beautiful streets, enjoy leisurely strolls through its parks, have established deep friendships, a love for the city, and a deep respect for the honor and character of its citizens. Imagine my surprise when, in April 2018, I learned that I would be suddenly faced with the very real reality that the 30% tax policy – the policy that allows me to invest in my American pension and thereby protect my future – would suddenly be stopped. This decision is counter to the ethos of the Netherlands. In a home where ‘your word is your bond’, I am both disheartened at this prospect of leaving and shocked that this proposal is even being considered. As I have heard numerous times, afspraak is afspraak. I placed my trust in the government. I am not ready to leave. I am not done yet. I have more knowledge to share. I have more students to teach. More grants to write. I have more to do. And yet, if this proposal goes through as designed now, I will be forced to leave in order to protect my fiscal future. Is this truly what the goal of this proposal is? To encourage people such as myself to leave? I surely hope not.
I am Carla. I am from Portugal. I’ve been living in the Netherlands for almost 5 years, after finding a job at a university here. I’m an assistant professor in economics of entrepreneurship on a tenure track position. This means that the university hires me temporarily while they evaluate my performance in terms of research publications, quality of teaching, and service to the school. My work mobility is reduced while I’m in this situation, as I would have to start the procedure all over again in a new university, losing the time and effort I invested so far.
I have a PhD from a very good university in the USA (Carnegie Mellon) and this made me attractive for the university here. I see that I bring not only my technical knowledge but also the experience of the American academic system with me – and in doing so, provides a different perspective on how to advance and improve my university’s research and teaching foundations. I share this everyday with my Dutch colleagues and also with my Dutch bachelor and master students. I have been very happy here in the Netherlands and I was planning to stay longer and continue to advance my career. So much so that I recently bought a house here.
This proposed change in the law implies that starting January 2019 (7 months from now), my salary will be substantially cut without providing me ample time to prepare for this. It will obviously make it a lot harder to pay my mortgage, not to mention allow for minimal savings for my pension. At the moment it is very costly for me to move to another country (due to the tenure track situation and to the house) so I will be in a difficult position. If this proposal is indeed implemented in January, I will have to start looking for work opportunities in other countries but will have to endure the financial cost of it, as well as career cost (which concerns me even more). If, however, the Government changes its position and decides to honour the agreement they had with me, I expect to have enough time after obtaining tenure to secure additional sources of income that would enable me to stay longer in the Netherlands, as was my intention. Being deceived like this by the Dutch government would leave a very negative overall impression of this country for me. I hope that this will not be the case.
Mike, Small Business Owner
My name is Mike, and my wife and I moved to the Netherlands from the US in January of 2014. When deciding whether to sell our home, leave our friends and family, and move across the country, the %30 ruling was the factor that sealed the deal for us. It was central to the salary negotiations with my wife’s employer and was the only real way for us to be able to afford to live here in the Netherlands.
After a few years here, we felt more and more engrained in Dutch Society. Where better to have our first child? So, in August of 2017, that’s what we did. In order to have enough space to raise our child we decided to escape the city and we bought a house in May of 2017.
Last April, I woke up to an article from DutchNews.nl, essentially saying “Mike, you know that deal you made with the Dutch Government, that motivated you to move here? ….yeah, they’re not going to honor that anymore.”
The consequences for us are quite harsh. In about 7 months, our income will drop 20% and we will not be able justify the cost of the home we just bought, as our loan amount was based on having the 30% ruling for 4 more years, instead of 1. We cannot sell the home without incurring huge financial losses since we have not yet been here long enough to recoup our significant investment. If we re-arranged our lives, and restructured our household budget, lived by a shoestring budget, at the very least we would not be able to save anything for our child’s future. That is not what we signed up for.
My biggest fear with all of this is not the abrupt halt to all of my financial goals. It’s not selling the house we bought a year ago for a loss. It’s not packing up and going home with our tail between our legs. My biggest fear is that for the rest of my life, I will forget all of the amazing memories we made during our 5 years here in the Netherlands. I’ll forget the two years we lived on a houseboat, the bike rides and pancakes with our child, the amazingly open and empathetic Dutch people we met. My fear is that the only memory that will remain is how we were bait & switched. My biggest fear is that I’ll look back at this time as a nothing but a huge mistake.
Steve, IT Professional
My family and I decided to move to The Netherlands in autumn last year. We had a choice of countries where I could have been based in for my job, however the 30% rule for 8 years was a decisive factor in coming to The Netherlands, as the reality is that there are additional costs to take into account when moving here, including school fees, health insurance and car related costs. We liked the fact that the 30% ruling seemed to acknowledge these costs and, after giving all the various alternatives a great deal of consideration, we decided to move here.
The decision to change countries and build a life somewhere away from family and friends is a big step and once it has been made there is no easy way of going back. At that point we decided as a family to move here, to live our lives here, to learn Dutch, to spend 8 years here, and see if by the end of those 8 years we want to settle here. Note the mindset. We did not decide to move here for 5 years and then leave.
We arrived here in December last year – not very long ago. I fully respect the right of the Dutch Government to decide to reduce the duration of the rule from 8 years to 5 years, however the suggestion of making it apply to current recipients of the policy completely disregards the complex financial decision that was made when deciding to move here. By all means change the duration from 8 years to 5 years going forwards, but why not be reasonable and make the new duration applicable for people who have not already decided to move their lives to the Netherlands? Applying this to current recipients is hostile, punitive, and dismissive to people who have already made the decision, and by moving here, the commitment to be here.
We want to stay here for 8 years and integrate. My 30% rule confirmation letter clearly states 8 years. If the Dutch government takes the unprecedented step of changing this arrangement to 5 years, we will be very disappointed and will question the worth of learning the language and making moves to integrate, together with our children, into a country with a government which is giving us the message that they don’t want us to be here.
My name is Hary. I have been residing and working in Netherlands for more than 5 years as a researcher in marine environment and climate change. In the past 5 years and 7 months, I represented two NGOs who are working with local/international governments and organizations (e.g., UN and European Parliament) in the field of marine environment protection and climate change mitigation. I have been on two missions to India with Dutch companies, helping to bring Dutch knowledge in Marine environment protection and climate change policies.
I moved to the Netherlands not only solely for my job but also the feeling the Dutch people gave me in terms of acceptance and the values that Dutch people hold dear to them. In all of the European countries I have visited, this place is where I felt the least racism and where people accepted me beyond my skin color and nationality. During my time here, I have volunteered for two organizations “humanitas” and “best buddies” helping kids with down syndrome and social problems. I started volunteering because I felt that the Netherlands, as a country, gave me so much and I felt the need and necessity to give something back. I did this while ensuring that I not only respect but also understand your values and culture as a whole.
The recent announcement of reducing the 30% ruling from 8 years to 5 years has seriously deteriorated my trust towards the Dutch government. I had planned my financial commitments based on the 8 year 30% tax policy. What I mean by financial commitment is that I took a personal loan to afford a complex heart surgery for my mother in 2015. When my salary slashes down to 1000 euros from 1stJan 2019 (should you decide to go ahead with your plan), I will default on my payments to the bank and I will be forced to move out or leave the country as a result. This will ultimately result in extreme emotional turmoil for myself and my family. And in truth, I am not sure, if my family can handle this emotional turmoil.
When you reflect on this proposal, I hope you will keep in mind the people who will get affected by this rule to whom you promised something completely different. I hope that the Netherlands will not become another country who opts to use tools against immigrants/expats in order to win back trust and acceptance among the Dutch people.