If you are an expatriate working in The Netherlands, your employer may have requested a 30 % tax ruling for you from the Dutch Tax authority. This allows your employer to provide a maximum of 30 % of your salary tax free as an incentive to move to The Netherlands. However, a 30 % tax ruling can have unexpected effects on maintenance in case of a divorce.
30 % tax facility
An employer can only apply the 30 % tax facility after receiving a written decision from the Dutch tax authority. This decision states how long the ruling is valid for. Currently, the maximum is five years, but in older cases 8 or even 12 years may still apply. More information on the 30 % tax facility is available via the Dutch tax authority.
Dutch maintenance rules
Dutch law bases maintenance on the net income the spouses enjoyed during the marriage. If one spouse receives a large net income, this increases both the need for maintenance on one side and the capacity to pay on the other side. For child maintenance, there are guidelines limiting the amount owed. However, there are only limited grounds for capping the amount of spousal maintenance.
Complications when calculating maintenance
Having a 30 % tax ruling also means that standard methods of maintenance calculation are not always reliable. Employers are not obliged to report the 30 % net payment in tax documents. This can lead to confusion regarding actual income. Maintenance is usually calculated via software, which does not have the capacity to factor in the 30 % ruling. This means that a divorce lawyer has to be experienced enough to make a separate calculation of income and request the right financial documents to make the calculation.
Courts can also make mistakes with the 30 % tax ruling
Sometimes the courts also miss the full implications of the 30 % ruling. Particularly in the initial proceedings, calculations made by the courts can vary. The courts in areas where more expatriates live tend to be more knowledgeable. However, unless one of the lawyers points out the implications of the 30 % ruling, the court may still apply a standard calculation. In such cases, too low an amount of maintenance may be set.
There are also cases where a spouse will claim a bizarrely high amount because of the 30 % ruling. In many cases, the amount claimed is exaggerated and can be adjusted downwards with the right numbers.
If you have received a maintenance judgement from the court that is unexpected or disappointing, then you may want a second opinion to see if an appeal would be successful. At Dutch Divorce Lawyer we regularly advise and calculate maintenance for expatriates and foreign nationals. Please contact us if you want us to make a calculation for you.