Netherlands: Critical evaluation of artists and athletes (wage) tax regime

As of 1 January 2001 the Netherlands Wage Tax Act contains a special tax regime for artistes and athletes. The Netherlands government has published an evaluation of the tax regime for the period 2001 ? 2003. Although the theoretical concept of the regime is appreciated (inter alia the possibility to have the deductible costs to be determined before the performance in the Netherlands), there are several elements which result in a not very positive judgment regarding the application of the system as a whole.

According to the evaluation difficulties exist for example regarding:
– Definition of a professional athlete;
– Cumbersome use of the possibility to have the costs determined before a performance (the Netherlands tax authorities feel that there sometimes is too little time for making a proper assessment regarding the claimed costs);
– Possibility for a tax-free reimbursement of travel and lodging costs is in practice experienced as too cumbersome and therefore often not used;
– Conflicts regarding the determination of the taxable amounts;
– Due to differences in wage tax rates between resident and non-resident artists and athletes there may be a competitive disadvantage for non-residents.

The Netherlands Government is considering to amend the current tax regime, in the sense that 50% of the payment to the artist or athlete may be considered as fictitious costs.