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I am a 31-year-old non-Dutch British citizen, living and working permanently in the Netherlands, looking for a better way to save my money for the long term (primarily retirement).

I am searching for any Dutch equivalents to the tax-beneficial accounts in other countries (specifically like the UK's ISA, or maybe the US's Roth or 401K accounts)? Alternatively, are there any government schemes available for savings like this?

My investigations so far have been fruitless (due not only to my poor Dutch language skills!).

  • Do you have a pension scheme from your employer? This is the most common way to save for retirement; Dutch pension funds hold about 1 trillion euro's in investments. Some schemes allow additional voluntary contributions, especially if your mandatory contributions and the employers contribution do not add up to the maximum tax-free limit. (Dutch pensions are tax-delayed). – MSalters Jul 31 '15 at 15:09
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Where are you from? The Netherlands has tax treaties with different countries that may offer you some additional options.

The Netherlands calculates a maximum tax free contribution to your pension each year based on your income. If you contributed less than you were allowed to (pensioengat), you can invest the difference between your actual and allowed contributions in special retirement investments that usually offer tax advantages. A gap like this can be due to getting a bonus or a raise.

After looking around, the investments available are either a special savings account (banksparen) or an annuity (lijfrente). Your allowed contributions to both will be tax deductible and the investment itself is excluded from wealth tax (box 3 taxes). I also see Aegon offering an "investment annuity" that lets you invest in any of 7 of their mutual funds until a certain date at which time you liquidate and use the proceeds to fund an annuity.

With the Dutch retirement options, wou will not in general get the same freedom of choice or low costs associated with IRAs in the US. I'm not sure about ISAs in the UK. It's also important to check any tax agreements between countries to ensure your chosen investment vehicle gets the tax advantaged treatment in your home country as it does in the Netherlands. For US citizens, this is important even when living abroad. For others, it is important if you return to your home country and still have this investment.

If you are a US citizen, you have an additional option. The US / Dutch tax treaty allows you to make these contributions to preexisting (i.e. you had these before moving to NL) retirement accounts in the US like an IRA. Note that in practice it may be difficult to contribute to an existing Roth IRA because you would need to have earned income after the foreign income tax deduction but less than the maximum income for a Roth contribution.

  • Thanks for the answer, @Eric . I've updated my question to indicate that I'm a British citizen. I already have ISAs open in the UK. From what I understand, however, I am not able to contribute further to those without being resident. I could, of course, be wrong (hopefully). – Lemon Jun 30 '15 at 16:06
  • The annuity is actually not a saving product. It's a tax-friendly way of paying out tax-exempt savings. Without an annuity, you'd get a lump-sum payment when your tax savings product pays out, but you'd also have to pay a lump-sum tax. As the Dutch tax system is anything but flat rate, this can make a huge difference – MSalters Jul 31 '15 at 15:12
  • @eric, could you possibly link to a reference that explains the last paragraph in more detail? This is the first reference I have found about this topic to date. I do have pre-existing self-directed retirement accounts (HSA, IRA (not a Roth), and solo-401k) in the US and I recently became a self-employed Dutch resident. Thanks – jungledev Jul 24 '18 at 11:43
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    @jungledev It's been several years since I researched it. You can start with the US / Dutch tax treaty documents here: irs.gov/businesses/international-businesses/… – Eric Jul 24 '18 at 12:13
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Life insurance may be tax-privileged under certain circumstances. The intent must be to buy an annuity, at retirement age. Unlike "banksparen", you must consider what happens if you die early.

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