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You may give your employees untaxed allowances, both in wages and in kind (such as a staff party or a Christmas package). This is arranged through the Work-related expenses scheme (WKR). To be untaxed these allowances must fit in the free space that the WKR allows. In this theme about the WKR, we take a closer look at the risks and opportunities of the WKR.
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Frequently asked questions about the WKR
  • What costs are covered by the WKR?

  • How do I use the free space?

  • Is a bonus or salary increase fiscally attractive with the WKR?

  • Does the WKR also provide a subsidy?

  • What about the WKR and working from home?

  • Does a company fitness or bicycle plan fall under the WKR?

Who is responsible for the WKR?

You must declare the WKR in the payroll tax return. In that sense, the payroll department is responsible for the declaration and therefore also for the WKR. However, it is not necessarily the case that all allowances and benefits in kind are processed via the payslip. Consider, for example, the costs that the employee declares separately. These declarations are processed in the financial administration. And what about the costs for staff parties?

Our advice is that proper agreements are made between Finance, Payroll and HR so that responsibility is clear and assigned.

What costs are covered by the WKR?

What costs are covered by the WKR? What exceptions are there? And how do I use the free space? Just a few questions that we often get asked in practice. A number of costs that are not directly related to the activities of your employees that fall under the WKR are:

  • staff parties
  • gifts for staff
  • part of the travel allowance that exceeds 19 cents per kilometer
  • bicycle plan / company bicycle
  • company fitness
  • and more.

Three categories that are not considered reimbursements in the WKR are

  • Targeted exemptions
  • Nil valuations
  • Intermediary costs

The free space in the WKR

The free space in the WKR means that you may spend part of the wage bill untaxed on your employees. The percentages that determine the free space are adjusted frequently. View the website of the Tax and Customs Administration for the current percentages. Be careful not to exceed the free space as you have to pay 80 percent wage tax on this extra amount, also known as the final levy! You should also determine that the amount you spend on your employees is customary.

The WKR and financial administration and processes

Our experience shows that the WKR often gets a limited degree of attention. In particular because the WKR is not included, or at least not structurally, in the financial administration and processes. Whilst you undoubtedly want to know whether you exceed the free space of the WKR, or whether you can still take advantage of tax opportunities by maximizing the used free space. The lack of structural embedding in the financial administration and processes is often due to the fact that no agreements have been made between Finance, Payroll and HR. That is therefore also step one that you should pay attention to.

We would like to illustrate the result with an example:

At a client it turned out that, on the basis of outdated legislation, an amount of more than 100,000 euros had wrongly been placed in the free space. This client used the entire free space. In other words, this observation resulted in a saving of up to 80,000 euros in wage tax. Of course, there can also be a downside and you exceed the free space without paying the wage tax, with possible fines and a tax interest of  normally 8 percent as a result.

The WKR and working from home

Many employees are currently working from home because of the corona crisis. This entails additional costs for the employee. For example, in the sense of coffee, toilet paper and electricity consumption. Possibly employees are also investing in improving the home workplace. But is that home workplace a workplace from a tax point of view? And does the WKR therefore apply?

The compensation falls within the free space of the WKR. This is because the allowance is not specifically exempted as the home workplace does not qualify as a workplace for the WKR.

Although the WKR is limited, there are still opportunities for you. For example, the free space was increased to 3% in 2020, for the first 400,000 euros of the employer's wage bill. As a result, you may be able to do something for your employees working from home. And there is a chance that all kinds of staff parties and outings will not take place in 2020, as a result of the corona crisis, so that you may not use part of the WKR budget.

Travel expenses (while not working from home) and the WKR

As a result of working from home, your staff does not come to the office, or to a lesser extent, over a longer period of time. How about the fixed travel allowance? One of the corona measures is that the tax authorities approve that you may continue to pay the fixed travel allowance during the corona crisis. You do not have to stop this travel allowance. The same applies to fixed expense allowance. There is one condition. Namely that the right to the fixed fee was already established no later than March 12 2020.

The WKR and the director-major shareholder

The WKR also offers various opportunities for the director-major shareholder. As a director you can check whether there is enough free space available to award yourself a compensation. We have various tips for the director. Read our article "Dga, maak optimaal gebruik van de WKR!" (Director, make optimal use of the WKR!). As a director and major shareholder you also have to deal with the so-called customary salary scheme. This arrangement means that for your work performed in your own company you must include a certain salary in your payroll tax return that is "customary". This customary wage - also known as the director-major shareholder salary - is adjusted annually. The Work Costs Scheme (WKR) offers options for lowering the director-major shareholder salary. 

Automatically check whether you have any space left in the WKR

Are you sure you are using the WKR properly? Or do you run a risk due to incorrect application of the WKR or exceeding  the free space? In practice, we see that often the opportunities offered by the WKR are not used and that internal stakeholders receive incorrect management information. You can prevent surprises and provide the correct (reliable) information about the applications of the WKR easily, via our WKR checker.

This is because the WKR checker searches your (tax) data for (in)accuracies of the application of the WKR. This WKR checker helps you to minimize your risks and thus discover opportunities. This gives you insight and certainty, so that you can show your stakeholders that you are "in control". Read more about the WKR checker and request a demo if necessary.

WKR-masterclass and in-house training

In 2019, we gave several Masterclasses about the WKR to a large number of financials and HR managers, working for various types of companies. These were experienced as extraordinary by the participants and also highly appreciated. Due to the corona measures, these master classes are currently not possible.

Fortunately, we can offer you online or in-house training for you and your colleagues.