Starting a business after retirement
- 12 Sept 2021
- Edited 14 Feb 2023
- 3 min
You have reached retirement age, you lead a fulfilling life, and you want to stay active. More and more frequently, people continue to work after having reached state pension age. In 2021, 4,380 people started their own business after the age of 65. Are you nearing retirement and do you have plans to start your own business? There are a few important points to consider. We have listed them here for you.
Let us say you have been working as a cleaner, teacher, truck driver, bookkeeper or business consultant for many years. It would be such a waste to suddenly stop using all this knowledge, expertise, and experience. Do you want to continue working after you retire and start your own business? This is possible if you register with the Chamber of Commerce, KVK.
Your old age pension (AOW) and retirement
When you reach your state pension age, you can claim AOW benefit. This is true whether you were employed, self-employed, or on benefits. The AOW benefit is a fixed (gross) amount.
Were you employed? In that case, it is highly likely that you have built up a supplementary pension. You can earn unlimited additional income if you have reached your state pension age and receive AOW or pension. Income tax rates are lower if you receive AOW.
On the site of SVB you can calculate your AOW-age.
Are you planning on early retirement and is your state pension age in the distant future? In that case, you probably have to pay extra taxes over your additional income.
You pay the normal income tax rates up to your retirement age and you still have to pay AOW premium (in Dutch) on additional earnings up to your retirement age. After your retirement age, this is no longer necessary. You can also only apply a payroll tax credit with one employer or benefits agency.
Tax matters and additional earnings
If you start as a self-employed professional without staff (zzp’er) or a freelancer, your business structure in a strictly legal sense is sole proprietorship. This means that the profits from your business fall under the income tax. These profits are considered extra income on top of your AOW and pension. You must declare this income when you file your income tax return at the end of the year, because part of it is taxable income, meaning you owe taxes. In tax return terminology this is called income from other activities (in Dutch, inkomsten uit overig werk).
When you reach retirement age, the income tax rate decreases. You no longer pay AOW premium. The tax credits also change. Do you receive rent or healthcare allowance? Your additional income may affect these allowances.
Do you do more than an occasional job? Then it is possible that the Tax and Customs Administration sees you as an entrepreneur. You can find this out via the Ondernemerscheck (in Dutch).
Do you spend at least 1225 hours on your business? Then you can make use of the self-employed and starters deduction. The amounts that you may deduct are halved after your retirement age.
VAT and small business scheme (KOR)
You will also have to deal with turnover tax (VAT). You calculate what you have charged your customers in VAT per quarter. You reduce this with the VAT that you have paid yourself on costs or purchases. You file a declaration on this balance. Is your turnover lower than €20,000? Then the small business scheme (KOR), an exemption from turnover tax, can be beneficial. Every entrepreneur, with any legal structure, can opt for this exemption scheme. Your choice applies for at least 3 years, or until you reach €20,000 in turnover. When using the KOR you do not charge VAT on your deliveries. You cannot deduct the VAT on costs (input tax) either. You can suffice with limited administration and you do not have to file a VAT return. You do not have to give your customer an invoice, but you can. In that case, you do not state a VAT percentage or VAT amount. Instead, the phrase "Invoice exempt from OB" will appear on your invoice. If you participate in the KOR, your invoice does not have to meet the invoice requirements. Watch the video Checklist for small businesses scheme that explains in seven steps how the scheme works. For English subtitels to the video, click the settings wheel, click ondertiteling and select English.
Not an entrepreneur, but working
Did you decide to only take on an assignment of your former employer or a project for 1 single client? In that case, you are not an entrepreneur. This means that you do not have to register with the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce KVK.
If your employment is not extended for that one assignment, your employer or client can hire you through a temporary employment agency. Another possibility is using the opting-in scheme (in Dutch).
In that case, the Dutch Tax And Customs Administration considers your work relationship a fictitious employment relationship (fictieve dienstbetrekking). This means that your employer or client deducts wage tax from your wages. Not all employers are open to this obligation to withhold taxes. If that is the case in your situation, your client can also use this Data portal 'payments to third parties' (in Dutch). Your client then registers their payment to you, but you are not a salaried employee and not an entrepreneur. At the end of the year, you file a tax return for this income yourself.
Tip! In some situations, it is hard to tell the difference between entrepreneur and employee. For more information on how and when to use the schemes described above, we suggest you talk to the Dutch Tax And Customs Administration or an accountant.