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Fiscal year and tax changes in the Netherlands

26.05.2023

It is important for any taxpayer, and especially an entrepreneur, to constantly keep abreast of tax changes in the country. You can learn about such changes in advance, even when they are only in the plans of the government. To do this, you need to have a good understanding of the peculiarities of the legislative and budgetary process in the Netherlands. Every change in the field of taxes goes a long way from a legislative initiative, a bill, to the signing of the law by the king, and then its publication in the Staatsblad.

Budget cycle and budget year

The budget cycle is the process of preparing, discussing and adopting a budget, and then monitoring its execution. The budget cycle spans three calendar years. Within one calendar year, three budget cycles are mixed. In particular, budget documents submitted to parliament may refer to the past, current or next year.

The most saturated budget cycle in the spring. The government is discussing plans to form the national budget for next year. Meanwhile, the House of Representatives* discusses the current budget, as well as reports for the past year.

*Note: The House of Representatives refers to the country's parliament - the States General (Staten-Generaal). The Dutch Parliament consists of the First Chamber (also known as the Senate) and the Second Chamber (House of Representatives). The Senate is elected through indirect elections by regional legislative bodies, the Second Chamber - through direct popular elections.

Beginning of the fiscal year

The fiscal year begins on January 1st. Ministers begin executing their budgets and take the first steps towards drawing up the next year's budget. Ministers also draw up annual reports, which are evaluated by the Dutch Court of Accounts.

Frame Letter – Kaderbrief

At the end of March and beginning of April, the Minister of Finance presents to the government the so-called Framework Letter, which contains the main priorities and principles for budgeting for the coming year. The budget plans will then be refined during the spring and summer.

In order to be able to draft the Framework Letter, the Minister of Finance receives information from all Ministries. For example, they may need more money for a certain task and less money for another purpose. They may also ask for money for a new plan. In addition, the Minister of Finance takes into account the forecasts of the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis (Centraal Planbureau, CPB) on the development of the Dutch economy. Framework letter not made public.

Reporting Day – Verantwoordingsdag

On the third Wednesday of May, the Minister of Finance presents the annual financial report of the central government for the previous year to the House of Representatives: in a special briefcase, just like the national budget and budget memorandum on Prince's Day. The annual report shows what the government has achieved over the past year, what was done and what it cost.

On this day, a report to the House of Representatives is also submitted by the Chairman of the Netherlands Court of Audit. Parliamentarians check whether budgets are executed correctly. This is an important moment for parliamentary control over the work of the government. Debate on the financial annual reports and reports of the Dutch Court of Audit takes place in mid-June. After debates in the House of Representatives, the Senate also discusses the annual reports - ministers must report to both houses of the States General.

Spring Memorandum – Voorjaarsnota

No later than June 1, the government submits a preliminary presentation of plans for the next year to parliament in an interim document called Voorjaarsnota. It also describes how government revenues and expenditures are growing, how the budget for the current year is being executed. From this document, you can first of all learn about the plans of the government for the next year..

Debate on the Spring Memorandum in Parliament takes place in late June - early July, shortly before the summer holidays. If a ministry needs more money than parliament has allocated, it must propose an "additional budget bill." However, major changes are rarely proposed.

Prince's Day - Prinsjesdag

This annual holiday is celebrated on the third Tuesday of September and marks the beginning of the parliamentary year. The monarch delivers the Throne Speech (Troonrede) at a joint meeting of the House of Representatives and the Senate, and Minister of Finance presents the national budget and budget memorandum – review of the government's budget policy for the coming year.

As head of state, the King delivers the Speech from the Throne on behalf of the government of the Netherlands. In his speech, the king sets out the state of affairs in the Netherlands and the government's plans for the coming year. "Members of the Estates General," are the opening words. The king makes a speech, but he does not write it himself: the ministers do it. Every minister contributes.

After a speech and the traditional cries of "Long live the king, hurrah, hurrah, hurrah," the king departs. Members of the House of Representatives proceed to the plenary chamber, where the Minister of Finance presents his portfolio "on the third Tuesday of September" (De derde dinsdag van september), which contains the national budget and the budget memorandum.

The budget memorandum shows the government's priorities. Details can be found in separate bills* of ministries. Before the government can implement its proposals, the parliament must consider and approve them. In the fall, both the House of Representatives and the Senate discuss these bills. Some proposals are corrected and adapted, others are rejected, and some are accepted immediately without any changes. Eventually, Bills promulgated on Prince's Day don't always become laws.

*Note: In the Netherlands, members of the government and members of parliament have the right to initiate legislation (submit bills to parliament). Usually the bill is introduced by the government (king and ministers). This is called a government proposal. But members of the House of Representatives can also introduce a bill. This is called an initiative proposal.

Before a bill is introduced to the House of Representatives, it goes through a consultative process in which relevant parties such as interest groups, experts and government agencies provide input.

General debate – Algemene Politieke Beschouwingen (APB)

In the autumn, the House of Representatives and the Senate discuss the budget. You can follow the debate in the House of Representatives live. Debates last for at least two days, and the media pays a lot of attention to them. All ministers, secretaries of state and deputies are present at the APB.

During the APB, the prime minister will speak on behalf of the government. Chairmen speak on behalf of their parties. They may object to government proposals or ask for amendments. The House of Representatives can amend the budget, but the Senate does not have the right to do so.

Adoption of tax changes in the form of laws

Any bill for tax and budgetary changes goes through the following path:

  • First reading: the bill is introduced to the House of Representatives, where it is debated. At this stage, MPs can propose amendments.
  • Second reading: The House of Representatives votes on the bill, including any amendments proposed during the first reading. If approved, the bill goes to the Senate.
  • Senate: the bill is debated and voted on by the Senate. If the Senate proposes any amendments, the bill is returned to the House of Representatives for a second vote.
  • Royal Approval: if the bill is passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate, it is sent to the monarch for royal assent. As soon as the monarch signs the bill, it is published in the Staatsblad van het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden (Official Gazette of the Kingdom of the Netherlands) and becomes law.

Autumn Memorandum – Najaarsnota

Until December 1, the Minister of Finance submits the Autumn Memorandum - an interim report on the implementation of the state budget by the government in the current year. The document contains information about what surprises and failures have been or what can be expected. In addition, the minister can make proposals for changing the budget.

End of fiscal year

The fiscal year ends on December 31st.

Compromise

The budget is always the result of a compromise between representatives of different parties in parliament and government. The government comes to a number of internal agreements necessary to ensure that in the future all processes one way or another related to the budget proceed properly. These agreements form the basis of the government's budgetary policy.

The volume of public spending, the government's powers to change taxation and social benefits and, as a result, the parameters of the budget are established by a coalition agreement between parliamentary parties. Before signing such a document, the parties that together form the ruling coalition are studying economic development forecasts for the next few years.

Now you know when and how the government reveals its plans for tax changes. Read our news – we talk about the most important of these plans.

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