To do before 2023 ends
Before 2023 ends, there are a few things you might want to do to wrap up the year nicely. As usual, I have made a long, but not exhaustive, list with tips & tricks.
Looking back, the first thing that comes to mind is that now there is not only war in Ukraine, but also in Israel and Gaza – next to several other countries that are dealing with wars and social or political unrest.
And the world had to face a lot of natural disasters last year (e.g., the devastating earthquakes in Turkey, Syria and Morocco, deadly wildfires in, among others, Greece, USA, Hawaii, Canada, Russia, Chile, and Spain, the floods in Libya, and several named storms and hurricanes across the world).
My heart goes out to all victims and their families.
2023 was also the hottest and wettest year in the Netherlands since they started measuring in 1906. And as we speak, some of our rivers are about to flood, and many farmers are worried about the loss of their crops because of the heavy rainfall in the previous months.
Also the Dutch election results have been very shocking for me. It will probably take a while before we have a functioning government again…..
In my personal life, in the past few months, I had to deal with broken ribs, followed by a long recovery, and then Covid (the first time for me). All good now, though….
On a positive note, the outcome of the Climate Summit 2023 sounds promising, and we are facing less inflation compared to last year. It is good to remember that there are always many things to be happy about. And because of the broken rib episode, I feel more grateful for the things I do have and can do.
For New2NL, THE highlight of the year was for sure our 10th anniversary, which we celebrated in July with some of our dear clients and their families.
I wish you peace, good health, and lots of personal and professional success in the New Year!
Before celebrating the new year, there are a couple of things you should look into. Think about the below situations, whether they apply to you and/or your family.
Things to do before the year ends:
- Switch health insurance provider
- Check your child care benefits
- What else will change in 2024? (taxes, benefits, reduced 30% ruling for expats, bilingual daycare, firework ban, double last names for newborns, etc.)
- You can also still take part in the Dutch Christmas & NYE Quiz. Click on https://new2nl.com/dutch-christmas-nye-quiz-2023 and show us what you know about the Dutch Christmas and NYE traditions.
SWITCH HEALTH INSURANCE PROVIDER
January 1st is one of the rare occasions that you may switch to a different health insurance provider. In case you were wondering, this is why you are seeing so many ads for health insurances in this period. If you want to switch, you should cancel your current insurance before December 31st at 11.59 pm.
Compare insurance companies
There are many websites where you can compare the insurances, for example the Consumentenbond, which is probably one of the most objective websites. The best offer depends on your personal situation, your family composition, and what type of care you need.
Health insurance consists of three parts: basic insurance (=basisverzekering), the optional additional insurance (=aanvullende verzekering), and dental insurance (=tandheelkundige zorg).
The contents of the basic insurance have been assembled by the government and are the same for every insurance company. More info you can find on the government website.
The insurance providers decide on the corresponding prices. The average monthly payment for the basic insurance in 2024 is € 149. Children are covered for free through the health insurance of their parents.
There are various additional (aanvullende) insurance packages that offer you more coverage, for a higher monthly fee. The insurance companies establish the contents and prices of these additional packages themselves. You will need the additional insurance if, for example, your child needs braces, you are interested in alternative healthcare, additional sessions of physical therapy, a more extensive child birth package, or travel vaccines.
Eigen risico (own risk)
Be aware, the ‘eigen risico’ (own risk) of 385 euros has been decided by the government and is the same for every basic insurance. This means that you have to pay the first € 385 of your health care consumption yourself. For some treatments, like the GP (=huisarts), midwife (=verloskundige), and dental care (=tandarts) for children up to 18yo, the own risk doesn’t apply (they are always covered).
If you don’t make much use of health care, you’ll only have to pay parts of the own risk -if you only declare, for example, 150 euros on health care; you pay these 150 euros and not the 385 euros.
On top of that, you could choose for a higher voluntary own risk (=vrijwillig eigen risico), which will lower your monthly fee.
Most insurance companies offer the possibility to spread the payments of the eigen risico over the year (=gespreid betalen), so you don’t have to pay 385 euros at once.
Eigen bijdrage (own contribution)
Some treatments you have to pay partly yourself (=eigen bijdrage). For example, some insurances only cover max. 40 euros per person per day for alternative medicines. The rest of the costs you’ll have to pay yourself.
Various policy options
For your basic insurance, you also have the choice between a restitutiepolis, a naturapolis, and a combinatiepolis.
Of these three insurances, the restitutiepolis is most expensive, but it gives you the freedom to select the health care provider or hospital of your preference. The insurance will cover the bills of all health care providers, even if they don’t have a contract with each other. In 2024, the number of restitutiepolis options will decrease, in favor of the combinatiepolis.
The naturapolis is cheaper, but you can only go to those health care providers with which your insurance company has a contract – you would like to check this beforehand. There is also a budget version of the naturapolis, but here your options for hospitals and other health care providers are even more limited, and you’ll have to arrange most insurance issues online.
The combinatiepolis is a combination of the naturapolis and the restitutiepolis.
Please note: in case of emergency you can always go to any hospital. The emergency phone number is 112.
People with a lower income may qualify for ‘zorgtoeslag’; a contribution towards the costs for health care.
CHECK YOUR CHILDCARE BENEFITS (kinderopvangtoeslag)
When both parents work, or follow an official study, or when a single parent works/studies, they can most likely apply for a tax rebate for childcare.
If you already receive this tax rebate, don’t forget to inform the tax office (=Belastingdienst) of any changes in your childcare situation. Think new hourly fees in 2024, or your child will spend more or less hours at daycare compared to past year; or your 4-year-old will switch from daycare to after-school care (=BSO), or your newborn will also join daycare. Also notify them about any expected changes in your household income, or when a parent has reduced or increased their working hours or quit their job.
If you provide the tax office with the correct information beforehand, you won’t risk paying back parts of the rebate at the end of the year. You can make your changes (wijzigingen) on the website of the Belastingdienst. Login with your DigId. You could also install the Kinderopvangtoeslag app on your phone.
On the website of the Belastingdienst you can make a trial calculation of how much rebate you could expect each month.
You should also be aware of the maximum hourly fee (maximum uurtarieven) the rebate is based on.
In 2024, this is € 10.25 per hour for daycare, € 9.12 for after-school care (BSO), and € 7.53 for care provided by a guest parent (gastouder). This means that, if the childcare organization charges a higher amount per hour, the parents will have to pay the difference in price themselves.
From 2023, the daycare support hasn’t been linked to the number of hours that the parents work anymore. They will now look at the number of worked months per year by each parent.
The maximum number of declarable hours stays 230 hours of daycare per month.
Height of the rebate
In the table on the bottom of this page, you can get an idea of how much money you’ll get back. The rebate is higher for parents who have two or more children who attend childcare. Please note that by ‘first child’ they mean the child who is in childcare for the most hours per week, and not necessarily the oldest child.
The parents in the lowest income brackets get 96% of the daycare costs back for their 1st child, and also 96% for their 2nd and further children. The parents with the highest incomes get 33.3% back for their 1st child, and 67.1% for their other children. There are in total about 70 income brackets with each their own return percentage.
Please note that for the lunchtime supervision at your child’s primary school (Tussenschoolse opvang – tso), the tax rebate does not apply.
Moving towards free childcare
Back in 2022, the cabinet decided that childcare for working parents should be (almost) free. The exact details aren’t clear yet, but the start date has now been moved to 2027. This will hugely simplify this very complicate rebate system. Before this moment, they will have to work very hard to solve the current teacher shortage and long waiting lists.
In this Doodly video I explain the various childcare options.
The Consumentenbond (the national consumers’ organization) also provides a lot of reliable information about the various tax rebates and benefits.
Kinderbijslag (child benefits):
All parents who pay taxes in the Netherlands, receive an amount of money to cover some of the costs related to having a child. Kinderbijslag is the same amount for everyone; it’s not dependent on your income. Kinderbijslag is paid after every quarter by SVB (Sociale Verzekeringsbank).
When you register with the municipality upon your arrival in the Netherlands, they will automatically send a notification to SVB. You should receive a letter from SVB within 3 to 6 weeks after registering with the municipality.
In case this goes wrong, you could also apply here (in English).
This is what you can expect (slightly more than past year):
|Age of child
|Amount of allowance per 3 months, per child
|0 – 5 years old
|6 – 11 years old
|12 – 17 years old
Parents whose children have higher (medical) costs can get higher child benefits.
People who have a lower income, may apply for the child-related budget (kindgebonden budget), housing benefits (huurtoeslag) and/or health care benefits (zorgtoeslag), paid by the tax office. All these allowances will increase per 1 January.
Nationality: Note that the above rebates are granted to people who have the Dutch nationality, or who come from another EU country, or from Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland or Switzerland. Citizens from other countries need to have a valid residence permit for the Netherlands.
An exception to this rule has been made for Ukrainian refugees, who don’t need a residence permit until at least 4 March 2025.
WHAT ELSE WILL CHANGE IN 2024?
Some other things might change in your situation. Just a few examples:
*Bilingual daycare: From 1 February, 2024, daycare teachers are allowed to speak a maximum of 50% of the time in English, French or German. Bilingual after-school care (BSO) was already allowed (but still not very common).
*The government has decided to cut back on the 30% ruling for expats. All international talents who have already applied for this ruling can still enjoy a 30% discount on their income tax for the duration of 5 years in total. New expats will receive a 30% discount for the first 20 months, then 20% for the next 20 months, concluded by 10% for the final 20 months. This should take away the competition between Dutch and international personnel, and have the multinational companies contribute more to the Dutch taxes. But, what this will mean for the vacancies at especially many tech companies and research universities in the Netherlands, and our international competitiveness, is still unclear.
*From January 1st, the ‘energy ceiling’ (energieplafond) will be canceled. This means that there will be no maximum tariff for your electricity and gas consumption anymore. So, doublecheck your contract and whether it will still be beneficial for you next year. Maybe you would like to swap energy providers. Tip: most people who call you out of the blue about switching energy providers are a scam. There is still an emergency fund (Tijdelijk Noodfonds Energie) for people who need to spend more than 8-10% of their low income on energy, and some municipalities have created a program for their less wealthy citizens to help them save energy.
*The child benefits (kinderbijslag) will increase next year with a maximum of € 25.42 per child. Furthermore, the child-related budget (kindgebonden budget) and housing benefits (huurtoeslag) will go up. Also the minimum hourly wage will increase, and will be the same for all sectors. And since unemployment benefits are linked to the minimum wage, people who receive these benefits will get some more money too.
*The new minimum hourly salary will increase by 3.75 percent to 13.27 euros gross per hour. Most people who have a lower income will receive more benefits in 2024, and pay fewer taxes, and also most small business owners will end up with a higher net income next year.
*From January 1st, newborns are allowed to get a double last name. The parents may also choose the order of the names for their baby. Previously, parents in the Netherlands had to choose for the last name of one of the parents (with some exceptions for parents coming from a country where double last names are the norm). This new ruling will be backdated to January 1st, 2016, meaning that children born on this date or later may also get a double last name. A maximum of two names in total applies.
*After a baby is born, the parent(s) are entitled to a maximum of 80 hours of maternity care (kraamzorg). This is a specialized after-birth nurse who comes to the family’s home to take care of the mother and the baby (and other family members, if needed), and they do some housekeeping. From January, parents may use these 80 hours in a more flexible way, up to six weeks after birth (this used to be max. 10 days).
*Some further measures have been taken to protect the environment. For example, to encourage households to use less gas, the taxes on gas will go up, while the taxes on electricity will go down a bit. Furthermore, European laws dictate that the quantity of single-use plastic products needs to be drastically reduced. In the Netherlands, every day we throw away around 19 million plastic cups and food packages. Per year, this means more than 7 billion. In 2026, this number has to be decreased by 40 percent compared to 2022. Since 1 July 2023, there was a ban on single-use plastics, but this turned out to be too complicated and expensive for some parties. So, now, offices, sports clubs and schools, will not be fined (yet) if they still serve their food and drinks in these materials. All materials are only allowed to contain a maximum of 5% of plastics, though, and after use, they need to be recycled into, for example, egg cartons or toilet paper. Businesses also need to offer recyclable alternatives, and/or allow their customers to bring their own cups or containers. It isn’t clear yet by when these plastics will be completely banned, but we are moving in that direction for sure.
*In Amsterdam and fifteen other municipalities, there is (again) a firework ban for New Year’s Eve (and any other time of the year). Various professional firework shows, light shows, and other festivities will take place spread out over the city. On the Gemeente website they’ll tell you how and where. Some other municipalities have installed designated firework free zones, for example, near hospitals, children’s playgrounds, pet zoos, animal shelters, and natural habitats. It is already clear that not everyone will observe this ban.
*Be prepared, 2024 is a leap year, and will therefore have 366 days – with 29 February being the extra day.
*Other tax related issues that will change in 2024, you’ll find on the website of the tax office. And also a handy overview of the changes related to families with young children. The tax office also provides some tax information in English.
DUTCH CHRISTMAS & NYE QUIZ
Have you recently moved to the Netherlands? How much do you already know about the Dutch Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations?
Take the Dutch Christmas & NYE quiz now, and win one of the beautiful prizes.
STAY HEALTHY AND SAFE AND SEE YOU IN 2024!