Dutch Real Estate: Taxation Options

Wait, don’t run away screaming because the posts title states “Taxation”. This one is interesting (for the Dutch at least)! As you might be aware, we currently have all our Real Estate being taxed in Box 3, to benefit from the most favorable taxation option. However, if you would to purely FIRE on Real Estate in the Netherlands,  which taxation options is best? Our post today will try to shed some light on this. We present to you Dutch Real Estate: Taxation Options.

Disclaimer: we are not tax professionals and this is only our interpretation of the tax code. Consult a specialist if you want to make sure the tax approach is best your situation!

Dutch Real Estate: Taxation Options Introduction

As noted before, the Dutch tax system is quite complicated, but also gives you various options to manage the taxation of your Real Estate. It all depends on what you want to achieve and how actively you want to participate in your Real Estate. For today we will look at 3 taxation options:

  • Taxation of Real Estate income in Box 1:
  • Taxation on Real Estate when incorporated, with Box 2; and,
  • Taxation of your wealth in Real Estate in Box 3.

Let’s have a more detailed look at that the different options would entail. Note that the general deduction (Algemene heffingskortingen) should be the same for Box 2 and 3 options. It is subject to your income for Box 1 and therefore varies.

Real Estate with a pool

Real Estate with a pool

Box 1 Real Estate Income Option

First off, in principle the government almost always sees your Real Estate as wealth under Box 3. However, and this is where the tax law gets a bit fuzzy, when your Real Estate ventures (buying, sell, renting out) start to resemble “an active business”, the income is taxed as if you “work”. In this case your Real Estate income would be considered under Box 1. For the Dutch among you, this is a good post with some clarifications.

However, for this assessment we assume you actively manage your properties (assumed as long-term rentals) and that taxation is similar to the short-term rentals (think a B&B, AirB&B and similar situations). The taxation in this case is based on the net income you make from the property. You will have to report 70% of this net income, over which you will pay income taxes and social insurance premiums.

2018-08-18 Update: for actively managed (including AirBnB/etc.) rentals of an investment property, you might actually be required to add the total net income to your Box 1 taxes (not just 70% calculated as in this example, which applies to short term rentals of you own home only!).

Box 2 Real Estate Dividend Option

Another option to deal with your Real Estate is to incorporate into a business. In this case you can manage the properties anyway you please. You can also use the depreciation of the buildings and pretty much all other costs to limit your profit (and thus taxes). On this profit you will have to pay 20% tax (flat rate). Whatever is left, you can pay to yourself as dividend, which is taxed at another 25% (flat rate). In short, your net profits are effectively taxed with 40%.

We have actually incorporated before when we were still living abroad, because at that time it was an interesting option to limit our overall tax burden. However, you have to be very careful with this option. Here is why. There is a “ter beschikking stellen” clause in the dutch tax code. This means that if you loan money to your own business, you have to report income on this loan under income taxes (Box 1). If you already have paid employment, this taxation could be as high as 52%!

The interest rate your company pays on your loan also has to be conforming to market rates. You are not permitted to charge excessively high interest rates or no interest at all. In the later case the tax man will assume an interest rate for you and will tax you on it…..so be warned. Considering market conforming rates are currently in the order of 3-6% (-isch), you would only net 1.5-3% on this loaned money after taxes. Not very appealing!

Box 3 Real Estate Wealth Option

As noted in the introduction, and as also explained here and here, Box 3 taxation is based on your wealth. For Real Estate purposes this wealth is calculated as the government assess property value (WOZ) times a factor that is based on the rental income. If you have a profitable property, this percentage is usually 85%. Next, you deduct all your mortgagee and loans, which leaves you with your net “wealth” for tax purposes.

Depending on your wealth, various taxation percentages apply. Note that, in order to be qualified for Box 3 taxation, you will need a property manager that takes care of the rental property for you, as this investment has to be “passive” (read: no “work” required).

Real Estate

Real Estate at Sea

Assessment Assumptions

Now, let’s compare the 3 taxation options to see which one is best to FIRE purely on Real Estate in the Netherlands.

We have assumed the following for a single person:

  • Property market value (4 units) €500.000
  • Properties WOZ value (4 units) €450.000
  • Yearly rental income (gross) €50.000
  • Insurances: €1.500
  • Maintenance (3% market value): €15.000 (assumed primarily done by external parties; equal amount spend each year)
  • Property Taxes, sewage, garbage, etc.: €2.500
  • Property Management (tenant selection): €1.600
  • Property Management (monthly fees): €3.000
  • Marketing Costs (€50/month): €600
  • Yearly business expenses (year end statement, accountant, etc.) €1.000
  • Building Depreciation (2% per year, building value €300.000): €6.000

For this example no mortgages are taken into consideration. If you want to see how this work for you, include the interest as an expense for the Box 1 and Box 2 options. For Box 3, correct for the mortgage value. Simple as that.

Tax rates and social insurance premiums for 2017 are used for the calculations. Utilities are assumed to be paid by the tenants. We have kept costs for insurances, property taxes and maintenance the same for all options.

Box 1 Tax Results

For this assessment we have assumed we need about €600 per year in marketing costs for the various units when they become available on the market.

Based on the assumptions above, the Net Income is about €18.937. This could be improved a bit if you do some of your own maintenance. Do realize that for every euro reduction in expenses, you only earn about €0,5 back in net income due to taxes and social insurance premiums.

Also note that if you start to earn more, the tax burden also increases as income tax is progressive (from 36.55%, all the way up to 52%).

Dutch Real Estate: Taxation Options - Box 1 Income

Dutch Real Estate: Taxation Options – Box 1 Income

Box 2 Tax Results

We have had several people question why we don’t incorporate. This is why! The net income you can withdraw from a company (in the form of dividends), after paying profit and Box 2 dividend taxes, is lower then if you manage the property yourself (at least for this scenario). The total net income comes to only €16.294. But you will have another €6.000 in the company to use for investments.

The main reason is the depreciation of the building, this money will be available within the company as cash, but cannot be withdrawn! It’s considered a reserve, not profit, so you cannot pay it to yourself as dividend. The money will be available for future investments though.

There are some other reasons to incorporate obviously, of which a big one is the ability to limit personal liability. Incorporation might still be appealing for certain people and situations, but you really need to do your homework here.

Note: you still have to perform work at the company as you actively manage the properties. If you work for the company you also need to pay yourself income (which comes in Box 1 for tax purposes). However, for simplicity reasons, this has not been taken into consideration. If you would, the profit, and thus the available dividend, becomes smaller. You would get some of this lost income back via Box 1 income. We are also assuming you don’t pay yourself the minimum Major Shareholder amount (which is €45.000 per year), obviously.

Dutch Real Estate: Taxation Options - Box 2 Income

Dutch Real Estate: Taxation Options – Box 2 Income

Box 3 Tax Results

This leads us to Box 3 Real Estate investments, which clearly is the winner with the lowest taxation and thus the highest net income at €23.178. Even with the additional costs for a property manager (in terms of both selection fees and monthly fees), you are still better of from a net income perspective. This is a double bonus, as you don’t do any of the work and still get more at the end compared to Box 1 and Box 2 investing. How good is that?

Dutch Real Estate: Taxation Options - Box 3 Income

Dutch Real Estate: Taxation Options – Box 3 Income

Discussion and Notes

We did some more calculations for higher incomes too. We made the same calculations for a €1M Real Estate portfolio for a single person. This showed exactly the same results; with Box 3 investments outperforming both Box 1 and 2 by a healthy margin. If you are a couple and you have a €1M Real Estate portfolio, you can even benefit more as you can split the income or wealth and limit your taxes that way.

Now, the above is simplified obviously, as it is rather difficult to compare the three options due to all the requirements and options/limitations. Have a look at your personal situation to find out what works best for you!

Conclusions

Based on the above assessments and assumptions, you are best off getting a property manager and maintain all your Real Estate investments in Box 3 for tax purposes. We are planning to do the same. Best of luck!

 

Does this provide new insight to you? Have I missed anything critical? Did I make an error somewhere, please do share!

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18 comments

  1. Wel, that is the one thing where Belgium has an easier system… We are taxed on a fictive yearly income, indexed each year. That is it.

    Off course, there is the possibility to create a company and put the real estate in there. That is a different story all together.

  2. Wow, so many choices! It’s interesting that you get to pick. Is there an option that real estate investors usually choose, or does it just depend on your situation?

    Thanks for the insight! It’s interesting to learn about other countries’ systems.

    1. I know! And there are so many variables too to consider.
      But most people do Box 3 investing, due to the clear financial benefits in terms of taxes.

    1. Remind me again, were you going to sell your current house to build a tiny house, or where you going to rent out your house and use your cash/investments to pay for the tiny house?

  3. Maybe not that fun, but a very important topic! Insightful to see all 3 options worked out in one post. Planning to work with income in box 3 as well. One question: is the ‘vrijstelling’ for the wealth tax incorporated in your calculations for the box 3 situation?

    1. Glad to see I’m not the only weirdo out there. It is also a very critical part of FI in the Netherlands, so some knowledge is key here.

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