As they say, there are two unavoidable things in life: Death and Taxes. Until the first of these comes to call, we’ll all need to deal with taxes on a daily (or monthly) basis. Taxation is the lifeblood of any civilization worth its salt. There is a perception that taxes in the Netherlands are high, but this is a matter of perspective. If you’re very wealthy, you can expect to pay your share of tax, and your burden will reflect your ability to pay. This means that the rate of tax for the highest earners is much higher than people who are barely scraping by - as it should be.
In this article, we examine the typical charges and taxes in Amsterdam that you can expect to pay while living here. In this article we also include the costs of utilities, so you can plan your budget.
Some of these charges will be very different from your home country, and others will be very familiar indeed. In any case, it’s always better to know what to expect, to avoid any nasty surprises!
Taxes in Amsterdam: Knowing what to expect
In addition to taxes that are levied by the national government (for things like income), there are also municipal charges and other taxes in Amsterdam that residents need to pay.
Why is this? Well, The Netherlands has a semi-decentralized system of governance that gives quite a lot of responsibility to the local municipal authorities. This means that they have costs to cover, and they pay for these by asking everyone to contribute their share. These charges and other taxes pay for essential services, maintenance to canals, flood prevention, and many other services that it’s easy to forget about - but are essential. These are broken down into a few areas, described below.
Water charges, Municipal charges and other taxes in Amsterdam
There are a variety of different city taxes and municipal charges that Amsterdam residents have to pay. For those individuals on a very low income, it is possible to apply for an exemption for these. For businesses there are additional ones too.
Some charges are fixed, and others are based on the official property value, known as the WOZ value. The municipal charges (apart from the water authority tax) are lumped together in a single annual bill for your convenience. Taxes in Amsterdam that are paid to the municipality are:
Waste collection charge (afvalstoffenheffing)
This is a relatively fixed charge, based on a single-person (€326) or multi-person dwelling (€435).
Movable property tax (roerenderuimtebelasting, RRB)
You probably won’t need to pay this charge, as it applies to the owners of moveable property (residential or business), and the users (tenants) of business property.
It only applies to movable property, like a kiosk, boat, caravan etc.,
- Residential (owners only): 0,0428 % of the (WOZ) property value.
- Business (owners only): 0,1796 % of the (WOZ) property value.
- Business (tenants only):: 0,1293 % of the (WOZ) property value.
Sewer charges (rioolheffing)
Unless you use a LOT of water (300m3+) per year, your sewerage charge is a fixed amount of €140.40 per year.
Property tax (onroerendezaakbelasting, OZB)
Both owners and users/tenants need to pay a tax that is based on the property value, but this amount is different depending on whether you’re the owner or not. It applies to both residential and business properties.
- Property owner tax (residential): 0.0428 % of the official (WOZ) value.
- Property owner tax (business): 0.1796 % of the official (WOZ) value.
- Property user tax for tenants/users of business properties: 0.1293 % of the official (WOZ) value.
What’s the WOZ value?
The WOZ (waardering onroerende zaken, in Dutch) value is the ‘official value’ given to an ‘immovable’ property like a house or other building. This is a different amount than the actual market value, because the market value can change rapidly which makes it harder for the municipality to create reliable budgets. However, the WOZ is based on real market data and house sales in your area, so it is a good indicator.
The WOZ value is lower than the market value in almost all cases, but maybe the municipality doesn’t know what terrible shape a building has gotten into. In this case, you can appeal the official valuation and have it re-valued.
Because the WOZ value affects the amount of tax in Amsterdam you have to pay, and the taxes you have to pay for ‘income from home and work’ (at the national level), then it may be useful to know that the WOZ is generally 10% less than the ‘asking price’ for an apartment or house. You can also find out the WOZ value before you buy a property, and this is usually shared at a property viewing.
Charges paid to Waternet:
Water authority tax (waterschapsbelasting)
This is paid to Waternet, the company that maintains all things water in Amsterdam. From the canals, to the drinking water – waternet does it all. They maintain the dykes, process wastewater, and purify the drinking water, so we all must contribute to keep things running smoothly.
What about drinking water in Amsterdam?
The costs of water consumption are paid separately, but these payments also go to Waternet. The charges cover a variety of services and these are calculated based on fixed amounts per address, amounts per person (one resident or multiple residents), and the WOZ value of the property (if you’re the owner). For situations where a large amount of land is involved, you can also expect some charges calculated per hectare.
You can expect these water authority charges to be in the region of €300-€400 per year if you own your residence, or around €180 - €290 per year if you are renting a property.
Cost of Utilities in Amsterdam
You will, of course, also have to pay for the cost of utilities, such as electricity, gas, stadsverwarming (a community heating system using waste heat), TV, internet, and water consumption. Giving an estimate of these amounts can be tough because it depends on choices you make and the lifestyle you lead.
However, based on information from sustainable energy organization milieu centraal and the consumentenbond (who support consumers), the following ‘average’ costs can be expected:
- Electricity – €50 per month
- Gas – €82 per month
- Stadsverwarming – €130 per month (for hot water and heating)
- TV, internet, and phone – €44 - €96 per month (depending on usage and provider)
- Water consumption – €12- €25 per month (depending on usage)
In total, this means that your utility costs can range between €2,280 to €3,600 per year.
What if I don’t agree with the charges or don’t want to pay?
If you think the authorities have made an error in the calculation of your taxes or other charges, you have six weeks from the original decision in which to make an appeal.
If you just don’t want to pay - tough. It’s a fact of life, and you do benefit from the services they pay for, whether you realize it or not. Refusal to pay will result in additional costs.
Conclusion: Include the cost of taxes in Amsterdam in your budget
Planning a budget can really help get some clarity on the affordability of living somewhere. Some people are lucky enough to have a job that pays so much that they never worry about costs at all. For the rest of humanity however, planning how your income and expenses are balanced will help you meet unexpected costs when they happen, and give you a sense of control.
If you come from a place that has lower taxation, or a centralized system of governance, then you are probably accustomed to a lower level of service as well. It can be a shock to see how much all these charges can add up to, but it’s worth remembering that without them we’d all be neck-deep in water and filth. It’s no accident that the Netherlands is the world's sixth happiest nation, and the tenth best quality of life in the world.
The privilege of having a higher tax-burden also comes with cleaner streets and numerous systems and schemes that help to keep people involved in education, getting people back to work, preventing crime and keeping the city a wonderful place to live in.
For those on lower incomes, there is some relief from the municipal taxes in Amsterdam, and there are benefit payments (toeslagen) that help ease the burden. Overall, it’s a fair system that ensures the city is well-maintained and that everyone has an equal chance to participate fully in life in Amsterdam.
Last updated: May 31, 2022