Dozens of new Dutch laws set for 2018 incl. minimum wage hike

This story was updated on 29 December 2017.

With the new year starting, the Dutch government is implementing a number of new laws and changing some existing ones. Here follows some highlights on the laws that are changing next year. With a week of this year still left, more law changes may be added.

The government divided the law changes into several categories. Under the work and income category, there are some changes to various tax credits. Minimum wage is increasing, and next year employers can get an allowance for hiring young people to make up for the fact that the youth minimum wage increased in July of this year. Employers' premium reductions for employing young, elderly or disabled workers lapse next year, and will be replaced by labor costs benefits.

Under the healthcare category, the basic health insurance package is expanding somewhat next year. Some of the responsibility of caring for sick or disabled kids at home is transferring from municipality to the health insurer. And only registered medicines with a market authorization will fall under the low VAT rate of 6 percent. Products like toothpaste and shampoo will fall under the regular VAT rate of 21 percent. 

In the family category, the child benefit and childcare subsidy are both increasing next year. The government is mandating a lower ratio of children per childminder, so daycares, toddler playgroups and after-school care groups will either have to reduce their group sizes or employ more people. Anyone entering into a legal partnership or marriage next year will automatically share all current assets and liabilities, unless they have a prenuptial agreement to the contrary. Fixed alimony fees will rise by 1.5 percent in 2018.

The only change in the traffic and public transit category reported so far, is that road tax on motor vehicles will rise by 0.8 percent across the board in 2018.

In the education category, the government is making it easier for public- and special primary schools to merge into one collaborative school, for primary schools to be converted from public to special and vice versa, and for primary schools to move within their municipal boundaries. These measures are meant to help schools in areas where the number of pupils is decreasing. In addition to bachelor's and master's degrees, there will be a new independent degree in higher education next year - the associate degree. This is a 2 year program in higher vocational education, ideally suited for MBO-4 graduates who want to study further but can't do a 4 year bachelor's degree.

Under the housing and living environment category, homeowners will no longer be able to loan more on their mortgage than their home is worth. The maximum mortgage amount for two-income households increases next year - the second income will count for 70 percent, instead of 60 percent this year. And homeowners associations will be obliged to reserve money for major maintenance. 

For older people in the Netherlands next year, the retirement age is increasing to 66 years, and the tax credit for the elderly is also going up. Provisional income for those aged 50 years and higher (IOAW) who are either unemployed or under-employed is also available.

Consumers will also see some changes next year, including an increase in prices for passports and identity cards. The tax on electricity and natural gas will rise in 2018. Cigarettes and tobacco will become more expensive. And the owners of "high-risk dogs" will be required to complete a course in canine behavior.

Under the entrepreneurs category, the VAT agricultural regulation expires next year. This means that farmers, horticulturists and the like will have to pay VAT on all their products and services next year. Self-employed in need of social assistance will be allowed to have more assets and still qualify for a benefit. People on social assistance who want to start their own business can also apply for a startup credit from their municipality.