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Can I deduct my 2009 education costs in my 2011 or 2012 Dutch tax return?

Dear Sir or Madam,

I have a question regarding my tax return for 2011.

I have already filed my 2011 tax return. I would like to deduct my 2009 tuition fees (€ 11,000) from my 2011 income, but was informed that I could not do this.

Since  the deadline is tomorrow and I already filed the tax return 2011, I wonder if it is Ok for me to deduct the above amount from my income this year (to claim it in tax return 2012)??

Much appreciated if you could advise on this.


The tax authorities are right. Education costs must be claimed in the year of payment so a deduction can’t be claimed in the 2011 or 2012 tax return. Instead you can file a tax return for 2009 which will include the personal deduction. Since there was no income in 2009 the deduction will not lead to a refund. To prevent that you lose money the remainder of the personal deduction of education costs can be forwarded to a future year with income. This means that in the end the deduction can be claimed in your 2011 tax return. Result will be the same, but a different – formal – procedure.

Expatax can assist you with filing the 2009 tax return.

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Comments (6)
Comment by student on Tue, Nov 27th, 2012 at 11:27 PM
dear sir is there any age restriction for claiming a tax refund on the education fees paid .i am knowledge immigrant and availing 30% ruling.thank you for your advicebest regards
Comment by arjan enneman on Thu, Dec 6th, 2012 at 9:26 AM
there is no age restriction for the deduction of education costs. but the tax authorities will look at the reason why the education costs were made. reason must be related to a future job or better career. one can assume that this will be difficult to proof if the student is 70 years old.
Comment by geronimo on Mon, Mar 11th, 2013 at 3:05 PM
hai arjan, during my stay as a masters student in netherlands, i paid my tution fee for year 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 by myself which in total amounted to 17000 euros. during this period, i also worked part-time on the university campus as a student assistant. 1. will i be able to claim returns from the education costs incurred2. will i be able to do so online or offline. since jan 2012, i have been employed at the university as a researcher.
Comment by arjan enneman on Tue, Mar 12th, 2013 at 12:20 AM
yes, you can indeed claim a tax refund for the education costs. this can be done by filing a tax return. expatax can assist you with it. see
Comment by Melita on Sat, Feb 28th, 2015 at 10:31 PM
Hi Arjan, I have a question regarding tax return education cost. I did my master degree here in the Netherlands from September 2010 - March 2012 and I started work at October 2012. Can I still claim the tax return for my education cost? And if possible, how you will be able to help me and how much the approximate cost? Thank you very much regards,melita
Comment by Arjan Enneman on Sat, Feb 28th, 2015 at 10:36 PM
Hi Melita. It is possible to file a tax return for the previous 5 years. So in 2015 you can still file a tax return for 2010, 2011 and 2012. This way you can claim a deduction for your education costs. Issue though is that the education costs will first be deducted from your income in 2010. Since you only worked 3 months in that year your total income earned can be relatively low and fall in the lowest tax bracket. Consequence is that de deduction can also only be claimed against the lowest rate(s). Benefit may be less than expected. The benefit would have been bigger if you started to work from 1 January 2013. So planning in this case is important. But this can‘t be changed afterwards unfortunately.
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