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Netherlands – Tax break on 'worthless qualifications' to end in 2014

26 August 2013

The tax office has lost out on €15 million in income through a tax break on 'worthless qualifications' paid for by employers, the education ministry confirmed at the weekend.

The Dutch newspaper, Volkskrant, reported on Saturday that thousands of workers have ended up with worthless qualifications paid for by their employers with the help of a generous tax break. However, the qualifications in at least six regional training college institutions are not good enough to qualify for the cash, an education ministry spokesman confirmed.

Employers can get an effective discount of up to €2,700 on the cost of training staff to become a 'qualified assistant' or 'logistics worker', the Volkskrant reported. But many of the courses are worthless, the paper said. In other cases, employers conspired to benefit from the tax break by taking advantage of 'free courses' offered by some private institutions.

In one case, staffing agency, Van Koppen en Van Eijk, in The Hague has been ordered to repay €4 million received for training Polish nationals who work in greenhouses, to be 'assistant plant experts', according to the Volkskrant.

The scheme which made the tax break possible is being removed from January next year. The aim of the scheme was to improve standards in the Dutch workforce.

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