The Netherlands: Tax Disputes

This country-specific Q&A provides an overview of Tax Disputes laws and regulations applicable in The Netherlands.

  1. Is it necessary for a taxpayer to register with the tax authority? Are separate registrations required for corporate income tax and value added tax/sales tax?

  2. In general terms, when a taxpayer files a tax return, does the tax authority check it and issue a tax assessment – or there a system of self-assessment where the taxpayer makes their own assessment which stands unless checked?

  3. Can a taxpayer amend the taxpayer’s return after it has been filed? Are there any time limits to do this?

  4. Please summarise the main methods for a tax authority to challenge the amount of tax a taxpayer has paid by way of an initial assessment/self-assessment.

  5. What is the procedure where a taxpayer has not registered so is unknown to the tax authority (for example a newly incorporated company or a foreign company operating through a permanent establishment?)

  6. What are the time limits that apply to such challenges (disregarding any override of these limits to comply with obligations to relief from double taxation under a tax treaty)?

  7. How is tax fraud defined in your law?

  8. How is tax fraud treated? Does the tax authority conduct a criminal investigation with a view to seeking a prosecution and custodial sentence?

  9. In practice, how often is a taxpayer audited after a return is filed? Does a tax authority need to have any justification to commence an audit?

  10. Does the tax authority have to abide by any standards or a code of conduct when carrying out audits? Does the tax authority publish any details of how it in practice conducts audits?

  11. Does the tax authority have the power to compulsorily request information? Does this extend to emails? Is there a right of appeal against the use of such a power?

  12. Can the tax authority have the power to compulsorily request information from third parties? Is there a right of appeal against the use of such a power?

  13. Is it possible to settle an audit by way of a binding agreement, i.e. without litigation?

  14. If a taxpayer is concerned about how they are being treated, or the speed at which an audit is being conducted, do they have any remedies?

  15. If a taxpayer disagrees with a tax assessment, does the taxpayer have a right of appeal?

  16. Is the right of appeal to an administrative body (independent or otherwise) or judicial in nature (i.e. to a tribunal or court)?

  17. Is the hearing in public? Is the decision published? What other information about the appeal can be accessed by a third party/the public?

  18. Is the procedure mainly written or a combination of written and oral?

  19. Is there a document discovery process?

  20. Are witnesses called to give evidence?

  21. Is the burden on the taxpayer to disprove the assessment the subject of the appeal?

  22. How long does an appeal usually take to conclude?

  23. Does the taxpayer have to pay the assessment pending the outcome of the appeal?

  24. Are there any restrictions on who can conduct or appear in the appeal on behalf of the taxpayer?

  25. Is there a system where the “loser pays” the winner’s legal/professional costs of an appeal?

  26. Is it possible to use alternative forms of dispute resolution – such as voluntary mediation or binding arbitration? Are there any restrictions on when this alternative form of dispute resolution can be pursued?

  27. Is there a right of onward appeal? If so, what are all the levels of onward appeal before the case reaches the highest appellate court.

  28. What are the main penalties that can be applied when additional tax is charged? What are the minimum and maximum penalties?

  29. If penalties can be mitigated, what factors are taken into account?

  30. Within your jurisdiction, are you finding that tax authorities are more inclined to bring challenges in particular areas? If so, what are these?