Corona Support Measures
Corona Support Measures
Most important support measures for entrepreneurs hit by the coronacrisis - update September 9th, 2021
Summary of updates:
Temporary Emergency Bridging Measure for Sustained Employment (“NOW”)
- The NOW has been extended with an extra period. Entrepreneurs can apply for NOW in respect of the period from July 2021 up to and including September 2021, for three successive months.
- If the business was started after 2 February 2020, there is no entitlement to NOW 6.0.
- The maximum compensation under NOW 6.0 is 85%. The maximum loss of revenue that can be reported is 80%.
- The definitive determination of NOW 1.0 must take place prior to 31 October 2021. The second round of NOW must be definitively determined on 5 January 2022 at the latest.
Relaxation of postponement of payment and decrease in penalties and interest
- The possibility to apply for a postponement of payment has been extended up to and including 30 September 2021.
- The government will introduce a repayment scheme with a maximum duration of five years, from 1 October 2022 up to and including 1 October 2027. During the repayment period, tax interest will be charged.
Temporary bridging loan for self-employed professionals (“Tozo”)
- The Tozo has been extended up to and including 30 September 2021. This applies to both the income support and the business loan.
SME credit guarantee scheme (“BMKB-C”)
- The period within which applications for the BMKB-C credit scheme must be submitted has been extended to the end of 2021.
Fixed travel allowance and working from home
- The possibility for employers to pay a tax-free travel allowance to employees has been extended until 1 October 2021, even if employees are mostly working from home.
Customary salary for DMS’s
- For the reduction of the customary salary, a number of requirements must be met, including the requirement that the current-account debt and the paid dividend may not have increased.
Relaxation of hours criterion
- The relaxation of the hours criterion also applies in the period from January 2021 up to and including June 2021.
Mortgages and mortgage applications
- The period within which a payment holiday can be applied for has been extended up to and including September 2021.
Contribution towards fixed expenses for small and medium-sized businesses (“TVL”)
- The TVL has been extended up to and including Q3 2021. The maximum subsidy percentage is 100% of the fixed expenses. Revenue must have dropped by more than 30% compared to Q3 2019 or Q3 2020. The TVL application for Q3 2021 can be submitted from 31 August 2021 onwards.
- Any application involving an amount in excess of EUR 125,000 must be accompanied by an ‘accountant’s product’.
Increase in gift tax exemptions for 2021
- Due to the coronacrisis, two gift tax exemptions have been increased by EUR 1,000. These are the gift tax exemption for children (current level: EUR 6,604) and the gift tax exemption for third parties (current level: EUR 3,244).
Temporary Support for Necessary Costs (“TONK”)
- If you are not sufficiently able to pay for the necessary costs, you may be able to claim compensation under the TONK scheme. The TONK scheme will apply from 1 January 2021 up to and including 30 September 2021; the requirements can differ from one municipality to the next.
Guarantee fund for events
- A guarantee fund has been set up for organisers of events taking place between 1 July 2021 and 31 December 2021. If an event cannot go ahead due to corona measures, then the government will give a donation (a part) of the costs.
Subsidy scheme for new entrepreneurs
- There was a separate subsidy scheme for new entrepreneurs (viz. entrepreneurs who started up between 1 October 2019 and 30 June 2020), which was based on the TVL.
Bridging Credit for Start-Ups
- Entrepreneurs who started up in the first half of 2020 can apply for a microcredit not exceeding EUR 35,000 to be provided by Qredits.
Dutch Court-Approved Private Settlements Act (“WHOA Act”)
- Use can be made of the WHOA Act if a business is undertaking viable business activities, but has too many debts to be able to continue in existence. With the help of the WHOA Act, a settlement can be reached with the creditors in order to start up the business again.
Time Out Arrangement credit (“TOA”)
- If a business starts up again with the help of the WHOA Act, a TOA credit can be applied for in order to promote this new start. Please note that the TOA credit is not intended to finance the arrangements made under the WHOA Act.
Government measures to help businesses affected by the corona virus (update September 2021)
- (Extension of) Temporary Emergency Bridging Measure for Sustained Employment (in Dutch the ‘Noodfonds Overbrugging Werkgelegenheid’ (“NOW”)
First round of NOW (NOW 1.0)
Entrepreneurs who expected a drop in revenue of at least 20% due to the coronavirus could apply for a compensation of their salary costs with the Employee Insurance Agency (‘Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen’, “UWV”) for a period of three months. The decrease in revenue of at least 20% had to occur during a period of 3 months, starting on the first day of the months of March, April or May 2020. It had to concern an uninterrupted period of 3 months. The revenue during this period (referred to as: ‘the measurement period’) would then be compared to 25% of the revenue for the calendar year 2019.
Salary costs consisted of the gross salaries plus the employer’s costs (social security contributions). The maximum compensation was 90% of the total salary costs. The percentage depended on the drop in revenue and was assessed on an individual basis. For example: in the case of a 50% drop in revenue due to corona, 90% of this 50% would be compensated, so: a compensation of 45% of the total salary costs. On the receipt of an application, the “UWV” would provide 80% of the requested compensation in advance. This advance was based on the salary bill for the tax return period “January 2020” and was paid within two to four weeks after the receipt of the application. If no salary data were known for this period, November 2019 would be started out from. In this way, employers could continue to pay their employees’ salaries. Salaries in excess of EUR 9,538 gross per month were not eligible for compensation. Employers who made use of the NOW scheme also received a compensation for the monthly accrual of the holiday pay, in addition to the compensation of their salary costs. In the first NOW round, the salary sum would be increased by 30% for the accrual of holiday pay, pension premiums and employer’s contributions.
The most important conditions for this scheme were:
- The drop in revenue had to be at least 20%*.
- Staff could not be dismissed on economic grounds**.
- When the NOW was determined in retrospect, an auditor’s report or statement from a third-party expert could have to be submitted for the definitive determination of the compensation.
- If you received an advance of more than EUR 100,000 or a fixed compensation of more than EUR 125,000, an auditor’s report was required.
- If you received an advance of more than EUR 20,000 or a fixed compensation of more than EUR 25,000, a statement from a third-party expert was required. A third-party expert is, for instance, an external consultant, external financier, industry organization or accountant/tax advisor. Holthaus Advies could of course also prepare this statement as a registered tax advisor.
- If no auditor’s report was required, the check would be made on the basis of the books and records.
- The employees’ salaries had to be paid for 100% (so the net salaries); this did not apply to the payment of wage tax to the tax authorities. This payment could be postponed, see point 2).
Please note that the “NOW” scheme also applied (in contrast to the unemployment benefit during short-time working) to employees with zero-hour contracts, employees hired through payrolling companies or temporary staff.
How to apply
Applications for the first NOW round could be filed from April 6, 2020 up to and including May 31, 2020.
*In principle, this concerned the employer’s revenue. However, in the case of a group of companies, the drop in revenue would be measured at (international) group level. This could be beneficial for Dutch companies which do not generate any revenue themselves (for instance because they acted as cost center), but which are financed by a foreign group company and have employees in the Netherlands. Individual operating companies of a group experiencing a drop in revenue of 20% or more, however, could also apply for NOW, even if the drop in revenue at group level was not 20% or more. In this case, however, additional conditions applied.
**There are also other options to save staff costs. Some examples:
- Contracts with flexible workers can be ended.
- Fixed-term contracts do not have to be extended.
- Indefinite-term contracts can be terminated by mutual consent on the basis of a settlement agreement whereby the employee is entitled to unemployment benefits.
- Employment agreements can be cancelled before the start of or during the trial period.
Position of director/majority shareholder (“DMS”): On March 27, 2020 it was announced that a DMS was not eligible for the “NOW” scheme unfortunately. The DMS could, however, make use of the “Tozo” support scheme (for more on this see 3. below). Only directors for whom social security contributions are paid satisfied the conditions for the “NOW” scheme. This also applied to shareholders with a non-controlling interest in an operating company who worked in the company for which the continued salary payment scheme applies.
Second round of NOW (NOW 2.0)
The government announced that the NOW scheme would be extended by a period of four months. With effect from July 6, 2020, entrepreneurs could apply for NOW for the months of June up to and including September. The return period for the wage tax on which the second round of the NOW scheme was based is March 2020. If the wage bill for March was higher than the wage bill for January, March was also used as the return period for the first NOW application. The difference was then calculated when the NOW payment was definitively determined. A salary in excess of EUR 9,538 gross per month did not qualify for compensation.
The most important conditions for being able to claim under this scheme were the following:
- The loss of revenue had to be at least 20%. The loss of revenue had to occur during a period of four consecutive months. If payment under the NOW scheme had already been claimed, the new period had to directly follow the earlier chosen period.
- Staff had to receive payment for 100% (so their net wage); this did not apply to the payment of wage tax to the tax authorities. That payment could be deferred, see point 2).
- As opposed to the earlier NOW scheme, staff could be dismissed, subject to certain conditions, on economic grounds. In the case of applications for a larger number of employees (more than 20), an amount of 5% of the total NOW payment would be withheld, unless employers had reached agreement about the application for dismissal with the trade unions. In the case of an application for dismissal for a larger number of employees, the trade unions also had to be informed and a statement had to be submitted to the effect that the employer had made sufficient efforts to provide staff with retraining. To support this, the government had made a budget available, with which retraining and development advice could be followed online, free of charge, from July onwards.
- When determining the NOW amount in retrospect, an auditor’s report or statement from a third-party expert could be necessary for the definitive determination of the compensation.
- If you received an advance of more than EUR 100,000 or a fixed compensation of more than EUR 125,000, an auditor’s report had to be submitted.
- If you received an advance of more than EUR 20,000 or a fixed compensation of more than EUR 25,000, a statement from a third-party expert was required. A third-party expert is, for instance, an external consultant, external financier, industry organisation or accountant/tax advisor. Holthaus Advies could of course also prepare this statement as a registered tax advisor.
- If no auditor’s report was required, the check would be made on the basis of the books and records.
- For situations in which an auditor’s report was required, no dividends could be paid to shareholders for the year 2020, no bonusses could be paid to directors and no shares could be redeemed, if payment under the second NOW scheme was being claimed.
Employers who made use of the NOW scheme would also receive a compensation for the monthly accrual of the holiday pay, in addition to a compensation for the salary costs. The salary bill was increased by a 30% upcount for the accrual of the holiday pay, pension premiums and employer’s contributions in the first NOW round. In the second NOW round, this upcount was increased to 40%.
Third round of NOW (NOW 3.0)
AAt the end of August, the government announced that the NOW would be extended by three periods of three months each. This means that the NOW was extended until 30 June 2021.
- Period 1 (1 October 2020 up to and including 31 December 2020 – NOW 3.0): in this period, the maximum compensation was 80% of the total salary costs. Salaries in excess of EUR 9,538 gross per month were not eligible for compensation in this period. In this period the NOW compensation could be applied for if the loss of revenue was at least 20%.
- Period 2 (1 January 2021 up to and including 31 March 2021 - NOW 4.0): in this period, the maximum compensation was 85% of the total salary costs. Salaries in excess of EUR 9,691 gross per month were not eligible for compensation in this period. In this period, the NOW compensation could be applied for if the loss of revenue was at least 20%.
- Period 3 (1 April 2021 up to and including 30 June 2021 – NOW 5.0): in this period, the maximum compensation was 85% of the total salary costs. Salaries in excess of EUR 9,691 gross per month were not eligible for compensation in this period. In this period, the NOW compensation could be applied for if the loss of revenue was at least 20%.
As opposed to the first and second NOW rounds, entrepreneurs were allowed to slightly reduce their salary bills with effect from the third NOW round without resulting in a reduction in the NOW compensation.
- In the first period, the salary bill could be reduced by a maximum of 10%.
- In the second period, the salary bill could be reduced by a maximum of 10%.
- In the third period, the salary bill could be reduced by a maximum of 10%.
The salary bill can be reduced in different ways: by not renewing fixed-term contracts, by laying off staff or through a voluntary salary reduction (‘salary sacrifice’). Please note that a voluntary salary reduction requires the employee’s consent.
How to apply?
Applications for the third period of NOW 3.0 could be submitted until 30 June 2021. The definitive determination of NOW 3.0 will take place in the summer of 2021.
The sixth round of NOW (NOW 6.0)
The NOW scheme has been extended with an extra period. NOW 6.0 can be applied for in respect of the period from July 2021 up to and including September 2021 for three successive months. Please note that if no application for NOW 3.3/NOW 5.0 was made, the applicant is free to choose the months in respect of which the loss of revenue is calculated him-/herself. If use has been made of NOW 3.3/NOW 5.0, the months of July up to and including September 2021 must be taken. Please note that if the business was started up after 2 February 2020, there is no entitlement to NOW 6.0. If the business was started between 1 January 2019 and 2 February 2020, different rules apply for the determination of the revenue period. In that case the revenue must be calculated from the starting date of the business up to and including 29 February 2020.
The reference month for the purpose of determining the level of the salary costs is February 2021. The maximum compensation is 85%. Salaries in excess of EUR 9,691 per month are not eligible for compensation. The NOW compensation can be applied for if the loss of revenue is at least 20%. The maximum loss of revenue that can be reported is 80%, even if the actual loss of revenue suffered by the business was higher.
Just as in the case of the earlier NOW rounds, a number of conditions remain the same. In addition to the contribution towards the salary costs, employers will also receive a compensation for the accrual of the holiday pay, pension premiums and employer contributions. This upcount is 40%. The ban on profit distributions to shareholders, bonuses to directors and the redemption of shares in the company’s own capital continues to exist. The same applies to the obligation on the part of the employer to make an effort to train the employees.
How to apply
NOW 6.0 can be applied for from 26 July 2021 up to and including 30 September 2021.
Definitive determination of NOW
If NOW was claimed in the first round (March 2020 up to and including May 2020) and an advance was received, the compensation must be definitively determined prior to 31 October 2021. As for the second NOW round (June 2020 up to and including September 2020), the amount must have been determined on 5 January 2022 at the latest. For NOW 3.0 up to and including 5.0, the aim is that the determination of the amounts concerned will start with effect from October 2021. With effect from 1 June 2022, NOW 6.0 must be definitively determined.
When determining the NOW amount in retrospect, an auditor’s report or statement from a third-party expert may be necessary for the definitive determination of the compensation.
- If you received an advance of more than EUR 100,000 or a fixed compensation of more than EUR 125,000, an auditor’s report must be submitted.
- If you received an advance of more than EUR 20,000 or a fixed compensation of more than EUR 25,000, a statement from a third-party expert is required. A third-party expert is, for instance, an external consultant, external financier, industry organisation or accountant/tax advisor. Holthaus Advies is of course also allowed to prepare this statement as a registered tax advisor.
- If no auditor’s report is required, the check will be made on the basis of the books and records.
When determining the NOW compensation, an efficiency threshold of EUR 500 applies. That means that a NOW repayment will only have to be made, if the overpaid subsidy exceeds EUR 500. It is possible to contact the UWV to arrive at a payment arrangement.
- Relaxation of postponement of tax payment and reduction of fines and interest
Entrepreneurs who experience financial difficulties as a result of coronavirus can submit a request to the tax authorities for a special postponement of their tax payments until 30 September 2021. Please note that this is a postponement, not a waiver of the tax payment.
The taxes to which the postponement applies include:
- Personal Income tax*
- Corporate Income tax*
- Wage Tax
The government had reduced the collection and tax interest to 0.01% until 1 October 2020. The tax collection interest will continue to be 0.01% until 31 December 2021. The tax interest, however, was increased to 4% again with effect from 1 October 2020. This will apply until 31 December 2021 to all types of tax, so also to Corporate Income Tax (normal tax interest rate: 8%). The collection tax will then return to its old level stepwise. On 1 January 2022, the tax percentage of the collection interest will be fixed at 1%, on 1 July 2022 at 2%, on 1 January 2023 at 3% and on 1 January 2024 at 4%. Fines will be remitted only if a request for a postponement of payment has been submitted. Please note that “old” default penalties will not be remitted. Remission will apply only to new default penalties caused by financial difficulties as a result of coronavirus.
How to request postponement
For Personal and Corporate Income Tax you will receive the assessment concerned after you have filed the tax return. For the Wage Tax and VAT, you will receive an additional assessment if you have failed to pay the tax within the normal period. Unfortunately, it is not possible to submit a request for postponement to the tax authorities before you have received the (additional) tax assessment. The deadline for requesting a postponement of payment is 30 September 2021.
A repayment scheme will be introduced with a maximum duration of five years, i.e. from 1 October 2022 to 1 October 2027. Interest will be charged during the repayment period. Repayments can of course also be made faster than over a period of five years.
*Amendment of preliminary tax assessment 2020/2021
In addition to applying for postponement of payment, it is also possible to amend your preliminary personal or corporate income tax assessment for 2020 or 2021. This preliminary assessment can be changed via the online environment of the Dutch Tax Authorities. Feel free to contact us if you need any help with amending your preliminary assessments for 2020 or 2021.
- (Extension of ) “Tozo” (Temporary benefit for self-employed professionals)
First round of Tozo (Tozo 1)
In order to support self-employed professionals, the government presented a scheme with effect from March 1 last allowing self-employed professionals to receive income support to pay for their cost of living. Via an accelerated procedure, self-employed professionals could receive income support for a period of three months. This could happen in two ways:
- A maximum of three months of income support up to the social minimum. This support did not have to be repaid. Self-employed professionals could top up their income during a period of three months to EUR 1,050 net per month. If both partners were entrepreneurs, a maximum amount of EUR 1,500 net per month applied.
- In addition, a maximum loan of EUR 10,157 for business capital could be applied for. The maximum duration of this loan has been extended to 3 years. No repayments have to be made on the loan until 1 January 2022; until this date no interest will be charged either. After this date a percentage of 2% will apply.
The level of the income support in the form of a top-up (1.) or a loan (2.) depended on the income and family composition. When applications were dealt with, no viability, partner or wealth test applied any more.
Who is considered as self-employed professional for the purpose of Tozo applications?
- One-man business (in Dutch: ‘eenmanszaak’): the owner.
- Partnership (in Dutch: ‘VOF’): every partner (provided every partner agrees).
- Limited partnership (in Dutch: ‘CV’): every partner (silent partners, however, are excluded).
- Private limited liability company (in Dutch: ‘BV’): the director/majority shareholder (in short: a shareholder with a controlling interest, so more than 50% of the shares).
- Firm: every partner, if labour and capital are contributed. If only labour is contributed, a partner could only apply for the Tozo top-up (variant 1).
- Cooperative society: every member (provided every other member agrees).
- Foundation: the person who has control over the foundation, makes a financial contribution and runs risks and also works for the foundation. This person must also be considered as entrepreneur for income tax purposes.
Does any of these legal forms apply to you?
The above entrepreneurs who satisfy the hours criterion were eligible for Tozo. The hours criterion means that a minimum of 1,225 hours per year must be spent on the business (approx. 24 hours per week). Another requirement is that the business must have been started before 17 March 2020.
Entrepreneurs who had reached pensionable age could also apply for Tozo. This concerned a loan for business capital at a reduced interest rate. The expansion of Tozo also applied to frontier workers and healthcare workers. If an entrepreneur lives in the Netherland, but runs a business which is registered abroad, he/she could apply for Tozo income support for a maximum of EUR 1,050 net per month. If an entrepreneur does not live in the Netherlands, but has a business which is registered in the Netherlands, he/she could apply for the Tozo loan for business capital with the municipality of Maastricht. Healthcare workers could also apply for Tozo, if the earnings paid to them by healthcare insurers and municipalities were insufficient.
How to apply
Tozo had to be applied for via the municipality in which an entrepreneur lives. This meant that the conditions to be satisfied and the application methods could differ from one municipality to the next. Tozo applications were assessed on an individual basis. Applications could be filed from March 30, 2020 up to and including May 31, 2020 using DigiD.
Please note that if you applied for income support, but succeeded in generating revenue again, this had to be reported to the municipality. Municipalities will also check the revenue generated during the income support period in retrospect. The generated revenue will be settled with the received income support at the time of the final settlement.
Extension of Tozo (Tozo 2)
The government extended the Tozo scheme by four months, up to and including September 30, 2020. For an extension, however, the entrepreneur had to declare that no moratorium of payment had been granted (deferment of payment granted by a court of law) and that bankruptcy was not imminent. When the Tozo was extended, the “partner test” changed. As opposed to the earlier Tozo scheme, the partner income was considered when Tozo was granted. The entrepreneur and his/her partner had to provide a statement to the effect that the household income had dropped under the social minimum of EUR 1,050 due to corona.
The income support could consist of both an income supplement and a loan. Entrepreneurs who already applied for income support in the form of a loan previously were entitled to a new loan in the second round.
Extension of Tozo 3 and 4
Tozo was extended by nine months by the Dutch government, viz. up to and including 30 June 2021. The earlier announced means test was abolished with effect from 1 April 2021.
How to apply
Tozo 3 and 4 could be applied for via the municipalities.
Extension of Tozo 5
Tozo has been extended again, viz. up to and including 30 September 2021. This applies to both the income support and the business loan. For Tozo 5, the partner test will continue to apply. For the income support, the viability of the business and the capital do not play any role.
How to apply
Tozo can be applied for via the municipalities and it is possible to apply for Tozo retroactively, going back one month.
Final determination of Tozo
If you have applied for Tozo, the municipalities will ask for a profit statement. The profit statement must set out the profit during the period of Tozo. Please note that the profit statement is mandatory. Failure to submit it may mean that the received Tozo benefit must be repaid.
- SME credit guarantee scheme (Borgstelling MKB Corona “BMKB-C”)
Small and medium-sized businesses that experience financial difficulties due to coronavirus can also use the SME credit guarantee scheme (“BMKB-C”). They can apply for credit (a loan) from a credit provider, such as a bank, in which case the government will guarantee a part of the loan. This should make it easier for credit providers to grant loans. This credit can then be used by businesses in order to bridge the period during which they are losing revenue or production due to coronavirus. The credit guarantee can be applied for by entrepreneurs if they employ no more than 250 workers (FTE) and have a maximum of EUR 50M in revenue per year. If a credit is granted under the SME credit guarantee scheme, an application fee will be charged to the entrepreneur. This application fee has been reduced from 3.9% to 2%. In addition, the term of the loan has been extended to four years. As a result of this extension, credit providers should provide loans more readily.
The BMKB-C scheme has been extended up to and including 31 December 2021.
How to apply
Applications for the credit can be submitted to credit providers (such as banks or non-bank financiers). The credit providers will then ask RVO for approval. An accelerated procedure is in place for credits up to EUR 250,000, so that applicants know earlier whether or not credit will be granted to them. For larger companies there is a different scheme: the Business Loan guarantee scheme (‘Guarantee Ondernemingsfinanciering-regeling’ or “GO”).
- Emergency counter (“TOGS”)
An emergency counter was set up allowing certain entrepreneurs to receive compensation in the form of a once-only gift of EUR 4,000. This budget was intended as first relief for entrepreneurs who had been immediately affected by the government measures and therefore saw their revenue fall. Applications had to comply with the following conditions:
- The company should have been established and registered with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce before 16 March 2020.
- The company should have had a physical establishment other than at the home address of the owner(s).* An exception applied to catering and itinerant trade (such as driving schools, taxi transport and market traders): their business address and home address could be the same.
- The company could not have more than 250 employees.
- During the period from 16 March 2020 up to and including 15 June 2020, the fixed costs for the main or secondary activities were expected to be EUR 4,000.
- The activity should have been registered under any of the required ‘SBI’ numbers before 16 March 2020. The eligible ‘SBI’ numbers can be found here. You’ll find your ‘SBI’ number on your Chamber of Commerce extract. The government expanded the list of SBI codes so that more entrepreneurs could apply for the relief offered by the Emergency Counter. If any registered secondary activity came under the selected ‘SBI’ code, support could also be claimed under the “TOGS”; the decision to grant support was no longer based on the registered main activity only.
* If, however, you had substantial periodic expenses, but your business was registered at your home address, you could still be eligible for the Emergency Counter. In that case a statement had to be provided to prove that your business had a certain minimum size.
How to apply? Applications for this compensation of EUR 4,000 could be submitted to RVO (the Netherlands Enterprise Agency) until 26 June 2020 via the RVO website. Applications had to be made through ‘eHerkenning’ or ‘DigiD’. Following the receipt of the application, the compensation would be approved and paid within 1 to 3 weeks. In the application, a bank account number registered in the name of the business had to be filled in.
- Postponement of loan repayments to banks
Dutch companies with a loan up to EUR 2.5 million may receive a six-month extension of the repayment of their loans. This applies to loans from ABN AMRO, ING, Rabobank, de Volksbank and Triodos Bank, among others.
How to apply?
The Dutch Union of Banks (‘De Nederlandse Vereniging van Banken’ or ‘NVB’) requests you to approach your bank if necessary in this respect.
- “COL” (Corona Bridging Loan) for startups and scale-ups
The government also enabled startups, scale-ups and other innovative companies affected by the economic consequences of the coronavirus to apply for (bridging) credit. The Regional Development Companies (in Dutch: ‘Regionale Ontwikkelingsmaatschappijen’ or ‘ROMs’) have provided these credits at the request of the government. ROMs invest mainly in innovative and fast-growing regional companies and restructure industrial sites. They provide venture capital to entrepreneurs and can even become a shareholder in these companies. They also assist entrepreneurs in their business operations and encourage them to set up their business in their regions. The government made available EUR 300 million for start-ups and scale-ups.
Companies could apply for a loan ranging from between EUR 50,000 and EUR 2 million at an interest rate of 3%. The loan was not intended to be used for the repayment of other loans. The scheme was intended to serve as extra financial capacity for a company. If a loan of more than EUR 250,000 was applied for, there was a duty to co-finance as shareholder or other investor for at least 25%. The loan had to be repaid within 3 years; during the first year, no repayments had to be made. COL loans could be applied for until 30 June 2021.
- Rent deferral and/or remission
To what extent the consequences of coronavirus are at the tenant’s risk will obviously depend on the circumstances of the case and on the further agreements made between the parties. Although a landlord has no strict obligation to take measures against coronavirus, it may be desirable to take measures that limit the damage nevertheless. In general, a tenant could rely on one of the two following legal grounds:
- Force majeure:force majeure in principle releases a debtor (in this case the tenant) from his obligation (i) to perform the agreement, if this is not possible, whether temporarily or permanently, and (ii) to pay compensation. Performance (in this case: the payment of the rent) can be considered impossible if, for example, the imposed government measures prohibit performance;
- Unforeseen circumstances:the corona crisis is extremely exceptional. It is not unlikely that courts will decide that the extremely disruptive effects of coronavirus and the government measures on the rental relationship go beyond a tenant’s normal business risk and can therefore be characterised as “unforeseen circumstances”. This could lead to an amendment or termination of the tenancy agreement or to a renegotiation of the current agreement.
- Fixed travel allowance and working from home
In general, a travel allowance may not be granted to employees tax-free if they work from home for longer periods of time. It has been decided that despite the increase in the number of days employees work from home, the travel allowance may be paid tax-free until 1 October 2021. An employer is therefore allowed to start out from the employees’ travel pattern on which the allowance was originally based. An employer may of course also opt to only reimburse the actual travel costs incurred by employees. Please note that this applies to allowances that were already being paid to employees prior to 13 March 2020.
- Decreased VAT rate for gyms
If gyms offered online sports lessons, the reduced VAT rate of 9% could be used until 19 May 2021. For online group lessons, the reduced VAT rate of 9% applied up to and including 4 June 2021. During the earlier closure of gyms, this measure had also applied. Since 5 June 2021 the VAT rate of 21% has applied to all online sports lessons again.
- Holiday allowance
What are the rules for paying the holiday allowance when the employer faces financial problems due to corona?
Employees are entitled to a minimum holiday allowance of 8% of their gross annual salary during the past year. The main rule is that an employee is entitled to the payment of the holiday allowance in the month of June at the latest. The parties can deviate from this time of payment by written agreement, for instance in a collective labour agreement, staff guide or individual contract of employment.
However, the employer must still pay the holiday allowance at least once every calendar year.
Given the current financial difficulties faced by many employers, it may be advisable to pay the holiday allowance at a later time. Paying the holiday allowance later than agreed, however, does require the employee’s consent. Our advice is that the agreements you make should be recorded in writing and kept in the employee’s personnel file.
What if the employee does not agree to a later payment of the holiday allowance?
Employers must allow for the fact that employees can demand payment, if employers fail to pay the holiday allowance in time. In that case employers run a risk. If the holiday allowance is not or not timely paid, then the statutory increase will become due. Under Dutch employment law, an employer’s failure to pay in time entitles the employee to demand a statutory increase on account of delay. This increase applies to all monetary remunerations and so also to the holiday allowance and holiday pay (i.e. the continued salary payment to employees when on holiday).
- Customary salary for directors/majority shareholders
The Dutch ‘customary salary scheme’ provides (in short) that director/majority shareholders (DMSs) must pay a minimum salary per year. This minimum amounted to EUR 46,000 gross in 2020 and will amount to EUR 47,000 gross in 2021. If entrepreneurs are faced with a loss of revenue as a result of coronavirus, a lower salary may be paid temporarily in proportion to the loss of revenue. Please note that the salary may not be decreased with retroactive effect in respect of any salary already enjoyed.
For the reduction of the salary of a DMS, the following requirements must be complied with:
- the debt in current account may not have increased;
- the paid dividend may not have increased;
- if the actual salary of the DMS was higher in reality, this higher salary shall apply;
- for 2021: the reduction of the salary requires that the loss of revenue compared to 2019 must be at least 30%.
- Postponement of Excessive Lending Act (for directors/majority shareholders)
The effective date of the Excessive Lending Act has been postponed until 1 January 2023. This Act serves to cap loans between directors/majority shareholders (DMS) and their BVs at EUR 500,000 (excluding debts for owner-occupied properties).
- ‘Fiscal corona provision’ for corporate income tax purposes
If a BV realised profits in 2019, a loss incurred in 2020 can only be offset in 2021. This scheme, however, is now being relaxed: a ‘fiscal corona provision’ may be formed out of the profit in 2019 and deducted for corporate income tax purposes. This provision may not exceed the profit in 2019. With this scheme, losses can be offset earlier than in 2021.
- Increase in employment costs scheme
For the employment costs scheme, a once-only increase from 1.7% to 3% applies to the first EUR 400,000 of the employer’s salary sum. The employment costs scheme allows employers to pay employees an untaxed allowance. This increase is intended to enable employers to offer their employees extra support in these challenging times. For the amount of the salary sum above EUR 400,000, a percentage of 1.18% will apply in 2021.
- Relaxation of hours criterion
Entrepreneurs can claim the ‘entrepreneur’s deduction’ in their personal income tax return, provided they comply with the hours criterion (among other conditions). The hours criterion means that at least 1,225 hours per year (approx. 24 hours per week) are spent on the business. To prevent that entrepreneurs who work less due to the corona crisis lose their right to the tax relief, the hours criterion was relaxed. This relaxation was extended and applied for the period from March 2020 up to and including October 2020. This relaxation also applied during the period from January 2021 up to and including June 2021. During this period, the tax authorities assumed that entrepreneurs satisfy the hours criterion, even if that is not actually the case.
- Mortgages and mortgage applications
Banks are also prepared to help out if there is less financial room temporarily to comply with mortgage obligations due to a loss of income. It is possible to ask your credit provider for a payment holiday (for interest and repayment). In the case of mortgages with a repayment obligation, the loan repayment arrears may be immediately spread over (a part of) the remaining term of the loan. The period within which the payment holiday can be applied for has been extended up to and including September 2021. The mortgage provider will assess the request for a payment holiday for your mortgage payments.
In addition, you may be asked during the mortgage application procedure by a bank or other credit provider to submit a corona or ‘prospects’ statement. This statement will provide banks with an insight into the impact of corona on the entrepreneur or employee. With this statement, banks or other credit providers wish to reduce the risk that the monthly mortgage instalments cannot be paid.
- Postponement of income tax return filing
For people with a ‘DigiD’ authorisation code, a postponement for filing the 2019 personal income tax return was granted automatically until 1 September 2020. The ‘DigiD’ authorisation code remained valid during this period.
Please note that this measure did not apply to entrepreneurs, tax payers who had already applied for a postponement and tax payers who had already filed their tax returns or had not received an invitation to file their tax returns.
- Expansion of budget for SEED Capital Scheme
The SEED Capital Scheme was intended to help innovative companies to obtain venture capital. Private entrepreneurs and the government joined forces by providing loans to promising startups and scale-ups in technological and creative fields. Due to the corona crisis, more budget was made available for this scheme. It is no longer possible to submit new applications.
- “KKC” (Corona Small Credit Guarantee Scheme)
In addition to the other credit possibilities, the Corona Small Credit Guarantee Scheme has also been presented. This scheme is intended for all credits from EUR 10,000 up to a maximum of EUR 50,000. The government will then guarantee 95% of the entire credit. The credit is intended as bridging financing.
To apply for the KKC, the following conditions must be met:
- The turnover amounts to more than EUR 50,000 per year.
- The business must have been registered with the Chamber of Commerce on 1 January 2019.
- The maximum term of the loan is 5 years.
- The interest rate does not exceed 4% per year. For the conclusion of the loan a closing fee of 2% applies.
Do you want to apply? Credit under the KKC can be applied for until 31 December 2021. Just like the other credit possibilities, entrepreneurs will be able to submit applications for KKC shortly to the usual credit providers (such as banks). ABN AMRO, ING, Rabobank, Triodos and Volksbank have in any event promised they will provide loans via this scheme. The credit providers will then request the approval of RVO (Netherlands Enterprise Agency).
- Coaching in the case of corona problems
The “OKB” (Stichting Ondernemersklankbord) offers free coaching for entrepreneurs facing corona problems. The foundation employs some 300 volunteers who coach entrepreneurs during a period of six months. The Chamber of Commerce is the first point of contact for information and advice. The OKB can offer further coaching and advice.
Do you want to apply? You can register for coaching via the OKB website.
- “TOFA” (temporary bridging scheme for flexible employees)
The TOFA scheme provided for a fixed compensation for flexible employees. Another requirement was that the employee was not entitled to any other support measures.
When did the entitlement to TOFA exist? If a minimum of EUR 400 was earned in February, TOFA could be claimed. This allowed employees to receive a top-up of EUR 550 per month gross for the months of March up to and including May 2020. The maximum income for April 2020 could not exceed EUR 550 gross. Please note that this compensation is considered as salary and will therefore also be taxed. It is no longer possible to apply for TOFA. The application period was closed on 27 July 2020.
- “TVL” (contribution towards fixed expenses for small and medium-sized businesses)
First round of TVL
For small and medium-sized businesses that were hit hardest by corona, the government introduced “TVL”: a contribution towards the fixed expenses for small and medium sized businesses. The sectors covered by TVL include: the hospitality and recreation industries, gyms, events, podiums and theatres.
These companies received a contribution towards their fixed expenses, depending on the size of the business, the level of the fixed costs and the degree of the loss of turnover. This compensation did not exceed EUR 50,000. For the award of this compensation, the SBI codes applicable to TOGS (point 5.) were linked up with. In addition, the loss of turnover had to be at least 30%.
The other conditions were taken over from the existing TOGS scheme:
- The business had to have been established and registered with the Chamber of Commerce before 16 March 2020.
- The business had to have a Dutch branch.
- The business had to have a physical establishment outside the entrepreneur’s home. For hospitality companies and itinerant trade (such as driving schools, taxi transport and market traders) an exception applied: the business address could be the same as the home address there.
- No more than 250 people could be employed by the business.
- The fixed costs had to amount to at least EUR 4,000 in a period of three months.
How to apply
From the middle of June 2020 onwards, applications for this scheme could be submitted via de RVO website. Applications had to be submitted via E-Recognition or DigiD.
Second round of TVL
The TVL has been extended by three periods of three months each. This means that the TVL has been extended until 30 June 2021. This scheme was introduced for small and medium-sized businesses hit the hardest by the effects of coronavirus.
- First period (1 October 2020 to 31 December 2020): the conditions of the first round of the TVL applied to this period. The minimum loss of revenue had to be 30% in order to be eligible for this compensation. The maximum subsidy amount for this period amounted to EUR 90,000 per three months.
- Second period 2 (1 January 2021 to 31 March 2021): the loss of revenue in order to be eligible for the compensation in this period had be at least 30%. The maximum subsidy amount was increased to EUR 600,000 per three months. The minimum amount for fixed expenses of EUR 3,000 per three months was lowered in this period.
- Third period (1 April 2021 to 30 June 2021): the loss of revenue in order to be eligible for this compensation had to be at least 30%. The minimum subsidy amount was EUR 1,500 and the maximum subsidy amount was EUR 1,200,000 (if the number of employees was lower than 250, the maximum subsidy was EUR 550,000).
Hospitality industry: Hospitality Stocks and Adjustments (“HVA”)
As a result of the tightened corona measures, hospitality businesses had to stay closed after 14 October 2020. This is why hospitality businesses applying for TVL received a once-only addition, known as HVA (Horeca Voorraad & Aanpassingen). Entrepreneurs received a once-only addition in the amount of 5.6% of their loss of revenue in Q4 2020. The maximum subsidy amount for TVL, however, continued to be EUR 90,000 per quarter. This compensation applied to the following SBI codes:
- 56.10.1 (restaurants)
- 56.10.2 (fast food restaurants, cafeterias/diners, ice-cream parlours, food stands)
- 56.29 (canteens and contract catering)
- 56.30 (cafés, discotheques, night clubs).
Event catering and hotel-restaurants were excluded from the HVA subsidy. The application period has now closed.
Events Module for the events industry (“VLE”)
Entrepreneurs in the events industry qualified for the Events Module in Q4 2020 and Q1 2021. It amounted to 33.3% of the TVL subsidy from June up to and including September 2020. The minimum subsidy amount was EUR 750 and the maximum subsidy amount was EUR 16,650. Please note that entrepreneurs in the events industry were only eligible for the VLE if they were not eligible for the TVL for Q4 2020. Moreover, a number of requirements were attached to the VLE: in Q2 and Q3 2019, for instance, the entrepreneurs had to earn at least 50% of their turnover with public events. Another requirement was that the entrepreneur had also received the TVL in respect of the period Q3 2020.
How to apply
The application procedure has now closed. Applications could be submitted up to and including 18 March 2021.
Retail trade: Stocks of Closed Retailers (“VGD”)
Due to the tightened corona measures, retailers had to stay closed after 15 December 2020. Non-food retailers who applied for the TVL therefore received an extra compensation: the VGD (Voorraad Gesloten Detailhandel; Stocks of Closed Retailers). If the loss of revenue was at least 30%, a once-only extra compensation of 5.6% of the loss of revenue in Q4 2020 and 21% of the loss of revenue in Q1 2021 could be received. The maximum amount for Q4 was EUR 20,160 and EUR 300,000 for Q1 2021. This compensation came on top of the TVL. If the TVL for Q4 2020 had already been applied for, the extra compensation would be received automatically. This compensation applied to businesses that were registered under SBI code 47 with their main activity and who were subject to mandatory closure. A list of the SBI codes that granted access to the scheme can be found here.
This compensation was exempt from taxation. However, this compensation can be considered as revenue for NOW purposes. Just as in the case of the TVL, the main activity registered with the Chamber of Commerce on 15 March 2020 determined eligibility.
TVL for Q3 2021
The TVL is being extended up to and including Q3 2021. The maximum subsidy percentage is 100% of the fixed expenses. The minimum subsidy amount is EUR 1,500 and the maximum amount is EUR 550,000 for small and medium-sized businesses and EUR 600,000 for large businesses. The loss of revenue must be more than 30% in Q3 2021, compared to Q3 2019 or Q3 2020. The other conditions for TVL remain unchanged.
Please note: for the award of TVL for Q4 2020 up to and including Q3 2021, the SBI codes will not be considered. This means that all businesses (except credit and financial institutions) that comply with the above-mentioned requirements are entitled to the TVL.
How to apply
Applications for the TVL for Q3 2021 can be submitted from 31 August 2021 up to and including 26 October 2021. Applications must be submitted via E-Herkenning (level 3) or DigiD.
TVL accountant’s products
Entrepreneurs who submit a TVL application involving an amount in excess of EUR 125,000 must provide an ‘accountant’s product’. For Q1 2021 (large companies) and Q2 2021, RvO has published an accountant’s protocol. For Q3 2021, the accountant’s protocol will follow at a later stage. Entrepreneurs can arrange for the accountant’s product to be completed by an accountant and can then upload it in the online dossier.
- Housing costs allowance
In cases where it is difficult to pay the rent or the mortgage due to a sudden decrease in income, it is possible to submit an application for a housing costs allowance to the municipality.
The conditions for the housing costs allowance are the following:
- There has been a sudden, strong decrease in income;
- There are not many savings or valuable assets;
- The applicant must start to look for a cheaper rental or owner-occupied property;
- In the case of an owner-occupied property: the costs of the owner-occupied property are too high for the income from a relative perspective (mortgage interest, insurance, maintenance and real estate tax);
- In the case of a rental property; the application for the rent allowance (‘huurtoeslag’) has been denied by the tax authorities.
The application must be submitted in the municipality in which you are living. Individual municipalities may have attached specific requirements that must be satisfied before the housing costs allowance is granted.
- Deduction of cost of travel by public transport for tax purposes
Any ongoing, non-reimbursed costs of commuter travel incurred prior to March 13, 2020 are deductible for Personal Income Tax purposes, even if the work was being performed at home. An example is a public transport subscription for a whole year that was purchased previously, while most of the work was being done at home. In that case these costs can be deducted in the 2020 Personal Income Tax return, if they are not reimbursed by the employer.
- Increase in gift tax exemptions for 2021
A person who receives a gift from someone who is living in the Netherlands at the time of the gift is required to pay Dutch gift tax. A number of exemptions apply, which means that if the amount gifted exceeds the exemption, gift tax only has to be paid on the amount that exceeds the exemption.
Two exemptions have been temporarily increased by EUR 1,000 due to corona. The reason for this increase is that the government wanted to be able to offer additional financial support to entrepreneurs who are less well off financially due to corona.
The following two exemptions have been increased:
- the gift tax exemption for children: in 2020, this exemption amounted to EUR 5,515; as a result of the extra increase and the adjustment for inflation, this exemption will be EUR 6,604 in 2021;
- the gift tax exemption for ‘third parties’ (e.g. grandchildren, friends or gifts from children to their parents): this general exemption amounted to EUR 2,208 in 2020 and will be increased to EUR 3,244 in 2021.
- Compensation for costs of child care during closure (TKKZO scheme)
Child care centres were closed to children of parents working in “non-essential professions”. Parents working in essential professions could continue to make use of child care.
All parents who would normally use childcare had been asked to continue to pay the costs of the child care. In that case they would receive an allowance approximating their own contribution. Parents working in essential professions who make use of child care could also receive an allowance.
The allowance applied to all types of formal care (day care, pre-/after-school care and guest parenting) and the data for the child care allowance, such as contract hours or income, had to be known to the Tax Authorities.
Both parents who received the childcare allowance or municipal subsidy and parents who did not receive it could receive a contribution on the basis of the TKKZO scheme. For day care and guest parenting, the compensation concerned the period from 16 December 2020 up to and including 7 February 2021. For pre-/after-school care, the eligible period was from 16 December 2020 up to and including 18 April 2021.
- Parents who receive the childcare allowance
Parents who receive the childcare allowance additionally received a compensation for their own contribution. This compensation did not have to be applied for: the Dutch Social Insurance Bank (Sociale Verzekeringsbank) has paid it to the parents automatically.
- Parents who use child care without receiving any government allowance
Even parents who do not receive the childcare allowance could receive a compensation for the costs of child care. From 15 May up to and including 15 July 2021, an application for the continued payment of the child care could be submitted to SVB.
- Kick-Start Vouchers
Companies that operate internationally and have been hit by corona may be eligible for a discount so that they can hire an external advisor of their choice. With this “Kick-Start Voucher”, they are entitled to an 80% discount, with a maximum of EUR 2,500 exclusive of VAT.
This measure aims to enable entrepreneurs to limit the consequences of coronavirus for their businesses abroad. For instance, an investigation of new (digital) earning models could be performed, a new international marketing plan could be prepared and the logistic process could be set up differently.
- Temporary Support with Necessary Costs (Tijdelijke Ondersteuning Noodzakelijke Kosten or “TONK”)
For families that face financial problems, the government has introduced the TONK scheme (temporary support with necessary costs). This is mainly intended for families that are facing a significant loss of income, families that have to fall back on state benefits or families that do not qualify for any state benefits or the presented support measures. One of the consequences this may have is that they cannot pay for the necessary costs any more.
The TONK scheme will apply from 1 January 2021 up to and including 30 September 2021. The possibilities of TONK may differ from one municipality to the next.
How to apply
Applications for TONK can be submitted to the municipality.
- Guarantee fund for events
The government has set up a guarantee fund for professional organisers of events taking place between 1 July 2021 and 31 December 2021. If such an event cannot go ahead due to any corona measures, then the government will make a donation of 100% until 19 September 2021. After this date, the maximum donation will be 80%. A cancellation insurance must have been taken out for the last held or last planned edition of the event. For this Guarantee fund a budget of EUR 385 million is available.
How to apply
It has been possible to submit an application to RvO since 18 June 2021. RvO will decide on the application within four weeks. The application must be submitted until 3 weeks before the planned event date if the event takes place prior to 1 October 2021. For events on or after 1 October 2021, the application must have been submitted at least three months before the planned event date.
- Subsidy scheme for new entrepreneurs
For new entrepreneurs a separate subsidy scheme was in place. New entrepreneurs are defined as entrepreneurs who registered their business in the Dutch trade register between 1 October 2019 and 30 June 2020 or who – as a result of a new start – re-registered themselves with the Chamber of Commerce. The scheme was based on the TVL and applications for this scheme could be submitted until 12 July 2021.
- Home working allowance
Provided certain requirements are satisfied, employers can already pay an untaxed home working allowance based on the “free space” of the employment cost scheme (point 15 of this newsletter), for instance in the area of ICT and ergonomically sound workplaces. Employers may also provide employees with tools, computers, mobile means of communication and similar devices, if such items comply with the ‘necessity criterion’ or if they are being used for business purposes for 90%.
- Bridging credit for new businesses
For entrepreneurs who started up in the first half of 2020 (1 January up to and including 30 June), a micro credit is available which is capped at EUR 35,000. An application for this credit must be submitted to Qredits. The term of this credit is between 60 and 72 months and no repayments have to be made during the first twelve months. Accelerated repayments can be made without any penalty. The closing fee for this loan is EUR 275 and the interest rate is 1.75%. The maximum loan is EUR 35,000. Qredits will also allow you to make use of free coaching and training courses.
How to apply
Applications for the bridging credit for new entrepreneurs can be submitted to Qredits with effect from 21 May 2021.
- Dutch Court-Approved Private Settlements Act (the “WHOA Act”)
The Dutch Court-Approved Private Settlements Act took effect on 1 January 2021. Although this Act does not specifically focus on entrepreneurs who have been affected by the financial consequences of corona crisis, it can offer a solution to them in this situation. If a business is undertaking viable business activities, but has too many debts to be able to continue in existence, a settlement can be reached with the creditors via the WHOA Act. Previously, any new start of a business required the agreement of 100% of the creditors. With the WHOA Act, creditors can be forced to accept a lower amount (viz. lower than the outstanding debt). In this way a new start can be realised for a larger number of businesses. Please note that creditors may not be worse off when the WHOA Act is applied than in the case of a possible bankruptcy. The proposal must be reasonable for all parties. This will be judged by the court.
- Time Out Arrangement credit (“TOA”)
If a viable business is realized again by means of the WHOA Act (see point 34. above), the TOA (Time Out Arrangement) credit can be claimed. Please note that the TOA credit is not intended to finance any agreements under the WHOA Act, but is meant to promote a new start (for example for stocks or marketing). The maximum credit is EUR 100,000. The maximum term of the loan is 6 years and no repayments have to be made during the first twelve months. Accelerated repayments can be made without incurring any penalty. The interest rate is 2.5%.
How to apply
Applications for the TOA credit can be submitted to Qredits with effect from 1 June 2021.
Summary of credit possibilities
Several credit possibilities have been introduced: BMKB-C, GO, COL, KKC and the TOA credit. Below a short overview of the various credit possibilities is given:
- BMKB-C (point 4.): entrepreneurs can apply for it, if they have a maximum of 250 employees and their annual turnover does not exceed EUR 50 million per year. The level of the loan is capped at EUR 1.5 million.
- GO (point 4.): this scheme applies to larger companies. With the GO scheme, a minimum of EUR 1.5 million and a maximum of EUR 50 million can be borrowed.
- COL (point 7.): this scheme was intended for startups, scale-ups and other innovative companies. With COL, a loan between EUR 50,000 and EUR 2 million could be applied for.
- KKC (point 20.): with KKC, a loan between EUR 10,000 and EUR 50,000 can be applied for.
- Bridging credit for new businesses (point 33.): entrepreneurs who started up in the first half of 2020 can apply for a microcredit with a maximum of EUR 35,000.
- TOA credit (point 35.): this credit can be used to finance a new start of an existing business and the maximum credit is EUR 100,000.
We’ll keep a close eye on the above-mentioned measures and would like to inform you by email about the developments, so that entrepreneurs can benefit from the measures as much as possible. Please be aware that the support measures are constantly subject to change, so please contact us for your specific situation. If you wish, we can of course help you with the submission of applications for the various schemes and provide you with advice.
Feel free to contact us if you have any questions and stay safe!