Enterpreneurs who live abroad but have a business in the Netherlands were probably still entitled to the TOZO, the benefit that the Netherlands created for entrepreneurs to get through the corona crisis
The Netherlands always stated that the TOZO is a social assistance benefit and that entrepreneurs abroad are therefore not entitled to it. Answers from the European Commission to questions from the European Parliament show that Brussels sees things differently
Entrepreneurs in the border region complained this year that they often paid tax and social security contributions in the Netherlands for years, but that they had nowhere to go when their income fell away due to the corona crisis.
They live in the Netherlands, but they themselves live just across the border in Germany or Belgium. Those countries claimed that the Netherlands should provide a benefit, but according to State Secretary Van Ark at the time this was not the case.
In response to Parliamentary questions, Van Ark wrote that the TOZO is a social assistance benefit and not a “special non-contributory benefit”, a kind of social security benefit. That’s where the crux lies now. According to the European Commission, the STOZO does contain characteristics of this special benefit. A social assistance benefit does not have to be paid across the border, but such a benefit does.
“It’s clear to me: The Netherlands should have paid these people TOZO,” says Professor Herwig Verschueren of the University of Antwerp. “The Netherlands can only get away with this if it can demonstrate that these people had insufficient ties with the Netherlands. But that seems complicated to me, since their company was registered in the Netherlands.”
But with the ruling of the Commission the money is not just in the account of the entrepreneurs involved. Verschueren: “The European Commission should start a procedure itself, but they don’t announce that now. And otherwise those people would have to go to court themselves.”
CDA MEP Jeroen Lenaers hopes that doesn’t have to come this far. “It would adorn the Netherlands if they would admit: we have misjudged that, we are just going to rectify it. I would find it very undesirable if people had to go to court themselves or if the European Commission had to start proceedings.”