[EN] Going Dutch – How I Learned to Love the European Welfare State

Posted on July 31, 2009
Filed Under English

A fascinating insight into how an American expat experiences his new life in the Netherlands, and how he feels that the American hobby of calling universal health care ‘socialized’ or even ‘socialist’ is a misnomer of the highest order.

Of course, this American, like many others, makes the same crucial mistake when it comes to tax rates, so I sent an e-mail to the author (Russell Shorto)

Hi Russell,

This response may be a bit late, but I only read your “Going Dutch” article in the past week. I was surprised to find a fundamental misconception about the Dutch tax rates in your article, and since it was a “grating” experience, I thought it opportune to point out the flaw 😉

For the first few months I was haunted by a number: 52. It reverberated in my head; I felt myself a prisoner trying to escape its bars. For it represents the rate at which the income I earn, as a writer and as the director of an institute, is to be taxed. To be plain: more than half of my modest haul, I learned on arrival, was to be swallowed by the Dutch welfare state.

This is patently incorrect: the 52% tax rate only applies to the top bracket of your total income. Lower brackets of your income are subject to lower tax rates:

Bracket 1: up to € 17.579 -> 33,60%
Bracket 2: € 17.580 – € 31.589 -> 41,85%
Bracket 3: € 31.590 – € 53.860 -> 42%
Bracket 4: € 53.861 and more -> 52%

Note: this applies to the brackets of one single income. Moreover: part of bracket one is totally tax-exempt (I believe one pays 0% tax over the first € 6.520).

Just thought I’d clear that up and relieve that grating sensation 😉

Ben Grimm,
Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Oh, the article:

Going Dutch – How I Learned to Love the European Welfare State. – NYTimes.com.


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