Universities: ‘Reduction of expat rule damages the Netherlands as knowledge economy’

Foto: Joep Poulssen 123RF

Employees from abroad currently receive a tax exemption of 30 percent, for eight years. This makes Dutch universities, research institutes, universities of applied sciences, and universities attractive to expats. One in three scientists at Dutch universities is from abroad, the VSNU wrote last year, which means there are around 10,000 scientists who benefit from the 30 percent ruling.

The cabinet wants to cut back on this ruling. Starting next year, the duration of the ruling will be scaled down from eight to five years, without any transitional arrangement. University association VSNU, the Vereniging Hogescholen, union Vawo and several other organizations have now written a letter to state secretary of Finances Menno Snel that they fear foreign scientists will soon no longer wish to come to the Netherlands. “Especially in the higher scientific positions, universities have been able to compete internationally thanks to the 30 percent ruling. Having international talents stay away will have a devastating impact on our scientific output,” the letter says.

Damage to reputation 
The organizations are asking state secretary Snel to reconsider the measures. If there’s really no other option, then at least a transitional arrangement should be introduced for expats currently living in the Netherlands. They may have included the tax exemption as one of the advantages when deciding whether or not to come to the Netherlands, and are now facing an unpleasant surprise. This is damaging to the Netherlands’ reputation as a country for expats, the writers of the letter say.

The planned cutbacks are clearly bothering many expats: the petition ‘a deal is a deal’, by United Expats of the Netherlands, has already been signed over 27,000 times.

Translation: Indra Spronk