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Freelance tax return and 30% ruling


I am a freelance photographer and image retoucher based in Amsterdam. Since I am from Bulgaria and it is still not easy to get a work permit here I have decided to start a business on my own. After a while, I got an offer by a renowned company to work fulltime as a freelancer.

My questions are: 

  1. Can I apply for the 30% ruling in that situation? 
  2. Does the 30% ruling apply for freelancers at all?
  3. As a non-Dutch freelancer do the same tax return rules apply for me as to the Dutch freelancers?

Thank you in advance!


  1. You can apply but the 30% ruling will not be granted to you in this situation.
  2. The 30% ruling is only applicable in case of an incoming employee. A freelancer is not an employee and therefore doesn‘t qualify for the 30% ruling.
  3. The same tax return rules apply to non-Dutch freelancers as to Dutch freelancer. It would not be fair to use different rules. 

point 3 can lead to a problem for you though. Since you only have one client for whom you work fulltime the tax authorities will see this as (fictitious) employment. This means that a work permit will be required but on the other hand the 30% ruling can be applicable. Your client/employer is responsible to determine what is your exact position towards them: freelancer or employee. If they choose wrong they will be liable for the consequences (fines), but for you it may lead to the consequence that you are not allowed to stay in the Netherlands. 
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