How to do your quarterly BTW tax

I registered  Zestee in The Netherlands in January 2012, and just submitted my sixth BTW quarterly tax return as an entrepreneur/ZZP.  I’m taking some time to write a blog post about how to do your BTW quarterly tax return in The Netherlands for english speaking entrepreneurs new to business – as I wish that I had this guide when I started out!

I’ve also just finished writing a blog post (procrastinating while I should have been doing this exact tax return!) that you might like to check out here:

Seven tips for dealing with your accounts and tax in The Netherlands

As far as I know, there is only limited information in english out there for entrepreneurs in The Netherlands.  If you have some links or resources you use when dealing with accounts and tax as an english-speaking entrepreneur in the Netherlands, please share in a comment below.

Disclaimer – I am NOT an accountant.  I am a social media trainer who works on the philosophy of sharing information and advice to help others.  This is a totally simple version of a  return and as your tax is your legal responsibility, I highly recommend you make sure you refer to the correct information via the Belastingdienst.  However what I’m attempting to do is document for myself and others how to save yourself some time and stress every three months to fill in some of the “gaps” that the tax department may not explain in detail to english speaking entrepreneurs.

Step 1:  Logging in

Go to the entrepreneurs portal of the Belastingdienst:

Then click on the “Inloggen ondernemers” (log in for entrepreneurs)

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The screen below will appear.  I’m afraid I can’t remember exactly how I got my users name and password!  I think when I registered with the KVK/ Belastingdienst when I first began, I was posted information about this.

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Step 2: Overview and outstanding returns

Next you’ll be taken to this screen below, which shows any returns you have submitted in the past.  Any outstanding ones should be clickable, as the red arrow shows below.

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Step 3: Introduction and do you have something to declare?

Once you click on this, you’ll be taken step by step through the return.  The section you are currently viewing is highlighted in pink on the left hand side.

First, is the introduction, as below, with an overview of your details and asking “Hebt u dit tijdvak iets aan te geven”?  Do you have something to declare.  Answer “ja” (yes) or “nee” (no) and then complete your name and phone number.  Scroll down and hit “akkord”.


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Step 4: Total amount of turnover and tax

As far as I understand, “Rubriek 1” deals with the invoices you have issued within The Netherlands.

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Here is my super simple translation and my own understanding (again, make sure you confirm this information yourself, I am sharing this to help others out but claim no responsibility!)

1a: Services & products with the high BTW tariff – this is the 21%.  So the “bedrag waarover omzetbelasting wordt berekend” is the grand total amount of my invoices for the three months being considered, INCLUDING  EXCLUDING the BTW (**see note at end of post) – in this case April 1 – June 30.  The column on the right next to it – omzetbelasting – is the total amount of BTW you have invoiced for that quarter.

A mistake I made in my first return was that I only totalled the invoices that had been PAID in that quarter and not the ones that I had sent and were unpaid.  I found out later that this is incorrect, you have to pay the BTW tax on any invoices – outstanding and paid – that you issued that quarter.  If that client didn’t pay in the end, you can claim it back later.

Also handy to know is don’t include cents – just the whole euro amount (basically just ignore anything in cents, you don’t have to round up or down).

(** see note below, I have to check if this is still the case!) If your accounts are correct, the right column should be 21% of the left.  You can use handy tools such as:

1b is services and products with a low tax – I think this is the 6% tax relevant to some services and products.  Again, if this is you, I guess you’ll know it!  I just leave it blank.

1c as above, but with any other tax tariff apart from 0% – I leave it blank

1d Private use – if you need to allow for private use for products and services, but as I have separate accounts for private and business, again I leave it blank.

1e Products and services with 0% tax or which you didn’t tax (another blank for me!)

Step 5:  “Diversion scheme” in The Netherlands

I have no idea what this is and imagine if you were making use of it, you (or your accountant) would know.  It’s something to do with other businesses “shifting” the BTW tax to you, which you then need to declare in this return.  I skip this section and just enter “0”

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Step 6: Rubrieks 3 & 4: Prestaties naar or in het buitenland/vanauit het buitenland aan u verricht

I did wonder at first if this was relevant to me at first – Prestaties translates to Performance and I thought perhaps as I deliver social media training worldwide online I may have to tax differently and account for it in this section.  However based on professional advice I’ve had from the belastindienst and an accountant for my situation this is not relevant to me, so I leave both sections 3 & 4 blank or enter “0”.

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Step 7: “Prepaid tax”, small entrepreneurs rule and estimate.

The final section deals with:

5a: total sales tax for sections 1-4 – this will be carried through automatically

5b: Voorbelasting – this is “prepaid tax” meaning the BTW you have paid in the relevant quarter on products and services you’re entitled to claim back on.  For example, if I paid for my accountant in April, a printer for my business in May and some stationary for my business in June, I can check the invoice/receipt for the BTW amount that I’ve paid, total it all up and put the total figure here.  It does get a little tricky here though and again, this is where I’d refer you to professional advice.  But from my experience and understanding:

  • you cannot claim any BTW on horeca (i.e. food & drinks for clients)
  • you cannot claim any tax on services you have obtained from outside of NL (for example, my web hosting in america that I pay in USD).

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Step 8: Sign (digitally) and send

Complete your name and details and click “akkord”.

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Step 9: Print and save

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Step 10: Sit back and relax!

Pour yourself a cup of tea or a beer, it’s all done for another three months!

BTW Tax returns are due at the end of the month after the quarter has finished, so:

January-March (submit return by end of April)
April-June (submit return by end of July)
July-September (submit return by end of October)
October-December (submit return by end of January following year)

Do you do your own BTW returns?  I’d love any feedback on this post and your experiences with accounts or tax in the Netherlands in a comment below.


March 2015: Important update: see above Step 4.

** For nearly 2 years, I was doing a quarterly BTW return thinking that “omzet” (turnover) was the entire amount, including BTW.  Despite the fact I had showed these returns to an accountant, submitted them to the belastingdienst for 2 years and also attended several training sessions and asked a lot of questions, somehow this was overlooked by everyone!  

Thanks to a kind reader of this blog pointing out I was doing it wrong (thanks Ruben) and since checking with a tax agent and the belastingdienst, I am working on fixing this.  In either case, they (Belastingdiesnt) always received the correct amount of BTW so they don’t seem too concerned.  It’s just that I was including the incorrect “column” from my excel sheet for omzet of the entire amount (including the BTW), not the “exclusief BTW” amount.  So lesson learned: OMZET = TURNOVER = EXCLUSIVE BTW

Tax is complicated enough when it’s in your own language, let alone another, so thanks for helping out Ruben & Roy in comments!  Any other comments on this topic most welcome!