THE NETHERLANDS: UEFA Football Final: Special amendment of professional sportsmen tax regime

On 10 May 2006 the UEFA Football Final took place in the stadium of PSV Eindhoven. Under the Netherlands artistes and professional sportsmen tax regime Netherlands withholding tax would have been due on the payments to the players during this Final. On 8 May 2006 the Under Minister of Finance sent a letter to the Second Chamber of Parliament, in which he informed the parliament that he had decided to inform the Royal Netherlands Soccer Association (KNVB) that no withholding tax was to be withheld on the payments to the players during this final. The Under-Minister will propose to the Parliament that the date of entry of the forthcoming amendment will be a date before the date of UEFA Final.

The motivation for this change was the fact that the artistes and professional sportsmen tax regime is currently being evaluated, and that changes are scheduled to be included in the 2007 Tax Plan. Apparently not all details have yet been decided, but one change is already agreed upon. This change is that there will no longer be a withholding tax obligation for performances that are not organised on the basis of an agreement. According to the Under-Minister this applies mostly to the sports world, and in particular regarding team sports. As examples he mentioned European or World Football Championships and the UEFA Football Final. The Under-Minister beliefs that after this amendment the Netherlands regime will be more in line with the international practice.

No doubt this amendment will be welcomed by the professional athletes involved and in particular by the organising bodies of international competitions and tournaments. It remains to be seen what the further amendments to the tax regime for artistes and professional sportsmen will entail. This could e.g. vary from an entire abolition of the withholding tax obligations, to a decrease of the applicable rate or to further distinctions between situations in which tax is to be withheld and situations in which tax is not be withheld.