Changes in the COVID-19 emergency measures – BES Islands

Changes in the COVID-19 emergency measures – BES Islands

September 8, 2021

As a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic and the economic impact of the lockdown in the Caribbean Netherlands (“BES islands”), the government of the Netherlands (by means of the Rijksdienst Caribisch Nederland and the Belastingdienst BES) has been introducing various emergency assistance measures. In the ever changing circumstances, the government has introduced some important changes to these measures on August 30, 2021. Please find below a summary of the changes and an overview of the measures still applicable to the residents of the BES islands.

Wage Tax Subsidy and Fixed Cost Subsidy

In the first quarter of 2020 the government introduced a wage tax subsidy to assist companies with the costs of keeping on staff, whereby there was little or no turnover due to the local and global lockdown measures. As long as companies kept staff employed, the government would assist with up to 80% of the wage costs.

Furthermore, the government of the Netherlands has, since April 2020, in various forms assisted businesses with paying their fixed costs, allowing for a compensation based on the decrease in turnover compared to the pre-pandemic turnover.

As per August 30, 2021 the government in the Netherlands has announced that, based on the current epidemiological and economical circumstances on the BES islands, these measures are no longer required. Funds will be made available to the local public bodies to provide specific assistance in the transition period. It is yet unclear what this assistance will include, but the total budget for the fourth quarter of 2021 for the entire BES is set at 1 million euros.

Extension of Tax Payments

In an earlier letter from the Minister of Finance it has been announced that the special extension for tax payment during the pandemic will end as per October 1, 2021. All tax payers will be expected to start paying their taxes due on returns filed after October 1st or will have to apply for extension of payment through the regular process for these amounts due, including further substantiation of the reasons for not being able to pay.

The amounts due  from the returns filed before October 1, 2021 that have received the special extension of payment will become payable as per October 1, 2022 and will have to be paid back over a period of 60 months (thus between October 2022 and October 2027).

Furthermore, the recovery interest (In Dutch: invorderingsrente) will remain 0% until December 31, 2021 and will gradually be increased with 1% per year until 3% in 2023 and ultimately will be increased again to 6% as per January 1, 2024. It is unclear whether the recovery interest will also apply to the amounts due on the basis of the special extension of payment mentioned before.