Amsterdam council planning swingeing new expat tax

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Amsterdam is about to get less welcoming to expats as its new left-leaning city council coalition is mulling the introduction of a swingeing expatriate tax.

As part of the new city council’s raft of policy changes aimed at solving Amsterdam’s biggest challenges, the proposed expat tax will apply to all registered expatriates, although whether expats from EU member states will be exempt is still not clear. However, British expats will be deliberately targeted as the council is expecting a Brexit-related surge of UK citizens once Brexit is finalised. Problems the tax is expected to solve include a lack of affordable housing for Dutch nationals, a huge increase in traffic on the city’s roads and overcrowding in the streets caused by foreigners. The council is also railing against the increasing use of the English language in the city.

Lawmakers are eyeing a monthly flat tax fee of 104 euros per international expat without Dutch citizenship. Other plans include doubling car tax and imposing a 75 per cent extra tax on Airbnb bookings, aimed at limiting the number of Italians arriving in the city. As regards the use of the tax windfall, the council is planning the construction of dozens of high-rise apartment blocks, the renovation of the central rail station and a bridge across the city’s river. The vast increase in available apartments is aimed at housing the employees of British firms planning to relocate from the UK to the Netherlands due to Brexit.

Last week, a major Dutch newspaper conducted a reader opinion survey on the issue of overuse of the English language as against Dutch. It seems the results were inconclusive but, as tourism and immigration increase, it’s natural to see more usage of the international language. Traditionally, English isn’t new to the Netherlands and has always been accommodated, especially in trade and business. The vast majority of Dutch people speak at least conversational English, and there’s a social infrastructure created to help those who don’t speak Dutch.

The lawmakers’ displeasure over the increasing use of English seems to be based on the irrational fear that Dutch will eventually be pushed to the sidelines, but the council seems to forget its official language is a blend of French, German and English. It’s sad but true that smaller local languages are often superseded by more major tongues as they, including Dutch, are less than useful on the international stage. Commentators are suggesting that removing or downsizing the use of English would reduce the Netherlands’ internationally-oriented stance and openness to other cultures.

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