Last January an appeals court in Den Bosch heard a couple from Landgraaf, Limburg who claims that couples of which only one partner works still have a right to the full labour tax credit for both partners.
Currently only people who work, either as an employee or as an entrepreneur, enjoy this arbeidskorting (employment credit). The maximum credit you can receive this year is 3,223 euro per person.
According to law professor Jos Teunissen, who represented the couple in court, this is discriminatory and a violation of human rights (the article doesn’t say which human rights are violated specifically — one assumes he is talking about Aticle 12 of the ECHR which guarantees the right of partners to found a family the way they see fit).
In an article for Reformatorisch Dagblad, Teunissen argues that families in which one partner works can pay as much as 5 times as much income tax as families in which both partners work.
Teunissen finds support from former junior minister for Finance Martin van Rooijen who thinks the labour tax credit is discriminatory towards pensioners. In a opinion piece for Trouw in 2015, Van Rooijen argues that discriminating against pensioners is discrimination on the basis of age, which is also plumb illegal.
The labour tax credit was introduced in 2001, when it helped to replace a generic credit. According to Teunissen in a recent article in Trouw, its goal is to stimulate labour force participation of women. It is probably not a huge surprise then that it is mostly opposed by religious parties.
Tags: discrimination, labour, law, part-time work, pensioners, pensions, tax credits
Celebrity laywer Oscar Hammerstein must have been out of the spotlight for too long. Volkskrant reports that even though the foundation Vrienden van de Gay Krant (Friends of de Gay Krant, a gay paper) claims not to have money to spend on legal counsel, they have managed to get Hammerstein (400 euro per hour) to seize two of Krol’s houses for them.
The foundation is being besieged by the Dutch Ministry of Education, which wants to get subsidies back that were earmarked for an online meeting place for teenage gays, but which Krol allegedly used to fund his other enterprises during his stint as foundation chairman. In turn the foundation felt Krol should pay their debt as it was he who got them into this mess.
One of the two houses is Krol’s villa in Eindhoven which he wants to sell for 860,000 euro, which includes a bar, a sauna, a hair salon and an obscene amount of marble. Financial gossip mag Quote has photos. The ministry’s bill is apparently only for 206,833 euro.
Krol’s party 50PLUS, who run on a platform of milking the young (read: poor) to give to the elderly (read: not so poor), have accused Volkskrant and AD of ‘damaging’ Krol. Considering that the man who allegedly robbed his employees of their pension funds has not been convicted, nor even prosecuted, they may have a point. On the other hand, the return of Krol in parliament to replace a sick colleague has led to an increase of projected votes of 50% in the polls (read: 1 seat) according to Maurice de Hond.
Tags: 50PLUS, Dutch celebrities, Henk Krol, money, pensioners, pensions, villas
About a month ago we told you about a pension plan for the self-employed.
A new fund called ZZP Pensioen was almost ready for launch except that it had trouble finding a provider. According to financial news site Z24 the largest pension provider of the Netherlands, APG, has now agreed to manage the fund. APG currently manages the pension funds for the government, construction workers and cleaners. Ten percent of all Dutch workers are self-employed.
If you have an irregular income—read, if you are self-employed—paying fixed premiums can be difficult. That is why so many of the growing group of the Dutch self-employed don’t save up for pensions. The premium payments for the new fund are variable, as you just put in what you can afford. The fund is also personal, meaning your contributions don’t pay for other people’s pensions. As a result you will only get paid for as long as there is money in your account.
The advantage of having a pension instead of saving money in a bank account is that the payments count as income, but the amount saved does not count as property. You will only be taxed once you get the money. That is the theory at least, in the past the government has forced ex-entrepreneurs to dip into their pension funds before they could receive state welfare.
ZZP Pensioen starts accepting members in 2015. The fund can also be accessed in case of invalidity, so it doubles as an insurance.
Tags: APG, employment, freelancers, pension funds, pensions
Four unions are planning to introduce a pension fund that is tailor-made for the self-employed, NRC reported last Thursday.
The fund called ZZP Pensioen allows for a variable contribution, as the self-employed have a variable income, and the money saved can also be used to cover extended sick leave. The initiators are Zelfstandigen Bouw, ZZP Nederland, FNV Zelfstandigen and PZO-ZZP.
According to NRC, only a third of the 750,000 self-employed in the Netherlands are saving for retirement.
The new fund is still looking for a provider. According to Z24, ZZP Nederland has been in talks with insurers but so far, the insurers want to bundle all kinds of unnecessary insurances with the pensions.
Why don’t the self-employed use existing pension plans? They are way too expensive (in Dutch).
Tags: freelancers, pension funds, pensions, self-employed
Yesterday the leader of 50PLUS quit his seat in the Dutch parliament over allegations that he had failed to pay pension premiums for his employees when he was still editor-in-chief of Gay krant, a recently collapsed monthly magazine for the gay community.
50PLUS is a political party that claims to represent the elderly. Stronger pensions are one of the main issues for the party as exemplified in a Ben Cramer / Peter Koelewijn song that goes like “Keep your hands off my dough / This is my last warning / Keep your hands off my pension / I won’t vote for you again.”
Law professor Evert Verhulp told Volkskrant that not paying premiums counts as breach of contract.
An Elsevier blogger headlined today: “Irony flirts with Henk Krol.” Former member of parliament for the Christian Democrats Ger Koopmans tweeted “Henk Krol not paying pension premiums is like Geert Wilders converting to Islam.” The elderly as a group are among the most affluent of the country, even though the babyboom generation that Krol represented put remarkably little into the pension funds as Sywert van Lienden and others point out. According to Van Lienden the babyboomers worked four-day weeks. The generation before worked harder and the generation after will have to work longer. In 2023 the Dutch legal retirement age will be 67, ten years later than the early retirement age that was possible from the mid 1970s until approximately ten years ago.
(Photo by Sebastiaan ter Burg, some rights reserved)
Tags: pensions, politics
A pensioner named Gijs Koekenbier (69) has become the butt of jokes after NRC Handelsblad published the story of his financial ‘woes’.
Mr Koekenbier has had to cut back from 4430 euro a month to 4260 euro (after taxes!), which started a litany of complaints. “We used to visit the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam five times a year, but now we have to limit this to twice a year. We have had to cancel the NS Voordeelurenkaart [Dutch rail discount card—ed.]. We’ve also decided to drink less wine. Two glasses a night instead of half a bottle is nice too.”
People who are not as well off as Mr Koekenbier reacted furiously. They saw his attitude as exemplary of the ills caused by neo-liberalism, the babyboomers (Retecool) and by the party of the elderly, 50PLUS (Volkskrant).
50PLUS is a party that tries to improve the position of the elderly, run by Henk Krol, former publisher of Gay Krant, and Jan Nagel. The Dutch elderly are relatively affluent, with an average household net worth of 245,000 euro. This is largely due to the fact that when the 50+ crowd bought their houses, they got the type of mortgage that one pays off, while young people do not repay their mortgage loans and are on the whole in the hole.
Meanwhile, there is such a thing as poor pensioners and they are being hounded by the government for benefit fraud. The number of pensioners that fraudulently claim singles’ benefits instead of couples’ benefits has almost doubled in the past five years, or so Sociale Verzekeringsbank claims. NRC quotes the Ouderenombudsman as saying, “People who see each other regularly do not know whether that counts as being a couple or not. We feel fines should not be given as long as the rules are unclear.” Fines for benefit fraud used to be 10% of the amount received in error, but have been upped this year to the full amount. In other words, one has to pay back the balance twice!
The minimum wage in the Netherlands is currently 1469 euro per month after taxes. A state pension for a couple is 1414 euro (707 euro per partner).
(Photo by Derek Gavey, some rights reserved)
Tags: 50PLUS, AOW, Henk Krol, money, pensioners, pensions
We Dutch like to pride ourselves in our pension funds.
“The best in the world,” our politicos holler. We may not have the money printing machine the Norwegians have with their oil reserves, but we still have the highest pay-outs in the world, not to mention that the combined funds have 800 billion euros in the bank.
A mere smoke screen, business magazine Management Team warns. It lists 10 myths that the partners of the polder model like to spread, and counters with its own worrisome truths:
- Seventy percent of the built up reserve will be paid out in the next 20 years.
- You only get back what you put in if you started paying when you were 20.
- Expect to receive at best only 35% of your last earned salary if you start paying into a pension fund now.
- There is 800 billion euro in the bank, but that is a shortage of 240 billion euro.
- Re-indexed pensions are payed from premium hikes, not from investment yields.
The pension funds claim that ‘on average’ they are healthy, but Management Team points out that they calculate an unexpected average. Instead of looking at the total coverage, they add up the coverage percentages of all the small, healthy funds with those of the huge unhealthy funds.
Oddly enough, our pension reserve could be used under European rules to calculate a lower national debt, but instead the current government prefers not to do that. The Eamelje.net blogger thinks this is so that its constituent partners can keep fear mongering, as fear begets power.
Tags: money, pension funds, pensions