In general, a Dutch resident company is subject to CIT on its worldwide income. However, certain income can be exempted or excluded from the tax base. Non-resident entities only have a limited tax liability with regard to income from Dutch sources.
Standard corporate income tax (CIT) rate
The standard CIT rate currently stands at 25%. There are two taxable income brackets. A lower rate of 16.5% (19% in 2019) applies to the first income bracket, which consists of taxable income up to EUR 200,000. The standard rate applies to the excess of the taxable income.
The CIT rates will be reduced. The standard rate will decrease from 25% in 2020 to 21.7% in 2021. The lower rate will further decrease from 16.5% in 2020 to 15% in 2021.
Fiscal investment fund regime
In general terms, under the existing fiscal investment fund regime, the CIT rate for fiscal investment funds is 0%, provided that their profit is made available to the shareholders and holders of certificates of participation no later than eight months after year-end.
Fiscal investment funds may also invest in real estate development (or redevelopment) activities, provided that these activities take place through a subsidiary subject to Dutch CIT and the development (or redevelopment) activities are exercised for the benefit of real estate that is (or will be) forming part of the fund’s own portfolio, an affiliated fiscal investment fund’s portfolio, the portfolio of a company in which the fund or the affiliated fund has a substantial interest, or for the benefit of the subsidiary’s own portfolio ('project development' subsidiary). Fiscal investment funds that invest in real estate are allowed to hold a taxable subsidiary that provides customary services in relation to the real estate held by the Dutch real estate investment trust (REIT). Examples are conference facilities or the exploitation of an in-house restaurant.
Exempt investment fund regime
The exempt investment fund regime exists next to the fiscal investment fund regime described above. In accordance with the exempt investment fund regime, investment funds as defined in the Dutch Financial Supervision Act (Wet op het financieel toezicht), which meet certain conditions, can request an exemption from CIT. Apart from the exempt status for CIT purposes, the exempt investment fund is not required to withhold dividend WHT with regard to profit distributions to its shareholders.
Innovation box regime
A special regime applies with respect to profits, including royalties, derived from a self-developed intangible asset (developed after 31 December 2006). In this so-called innovation box, the taxpayer may opt, under certain conditions, for the application of a lower effective rate on taxable profits derived from these intangible assets. Following the 2018 Dutch Tax Package, the effective tax rate of the innovation box increased to 7% as of 1 January 2018 (previously 5%). As of 1 January 2021, the effective tax rate of the innovation box is to be increased from 7% to 9%.
The innovation box is applicable if at least 30% of the profits have been originated by the patent. Companies that have incurred certain qualified research and development (R&D) costs for the development of intellectual property (IP) for which no patent was granted are also entitled to the favourable effective tax rate. This is subject to the condition that these qualified R&D assets became part of the company’s assets after 31 December 2007.
The lower effective tax rate only applies to positive income, allowing innovation losses to be taken into account in full. It is also possible to include profits from an intangible asset derived in the period between the patent application and the granting of the patent in the innovation box regime (not for R&D assets).
The outcomes of the OECD/G20’s base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) project have influenced the Dutch innovation box regime. As of 2017, the Dutch innovation box regime is aligned with the modified nexus approach as described in the OECD report on Action 5. Transitional measures apply to certain assets, especially those created before 1 July 2016 (e.g. the continuing application of the former innovation box regime).
Tonnage tax regime
In order to stimulate entrepreneurs engaged in ocean shipping, a favourable regime (known as the Dutch tonnage tax regime) may be available to certain shipping companies. Under this regime, the taxable profit of a sea-going vessel is based on its registered net tonnage multiplied by a fixed amount of deemed profit per ton instead of the actual profits from the exploitation. The regime only applies to the calculation of the profit related to the qualifying shipping activities. These activities include operating vessels in international traffic (including transportation for the purpose of the exploitation of natural resources at sea), cable and pipe-laying activities at the bottom of the sea, and towing and dredging and connected activities. The profits from the qualifying activities are taxed at a deemed tonnage profit according to a five bracket regressive scale system. The tonnage tax regime applies upon request and for a fixed period of ten years or multiples of the ten-year period.
As of 2020 and on instructions from the European Commission, the tonnage tax scheme will be tightened on a number of points. There will be a ceiling for ships subject to a time or voyage charter that do not fly an EU/EEA flag. When a ship is put into service on 1 January 2020, at least one ship in the fleet will have to fly an EU/EEA flag, and a flag requirement will be introduced for ship managers. A transitional arrangement is foreseen for tonnage situations in existence on 31 December 2019. The final refinement concerns the introduction of a profit ceiling for non-transportation activities of a maximum of 50% of the annual profit (this is, for example, relevant for cruise ships).
Local income taxes
There are no provincial or municipal corporate income taxes in the Netherlands.