13 income-dependent benefits and seven income definitions

Aside from taxation, the government has 13 different benefits at its disposal to shore up the income of poor families – and uses seven different definitions of income to do so, the government’s red tape monitor Actal said on Thursday.

The tax office, social insurance bank, job centres and local councils – all of which administer the schemes – all have their own definitions of income and their own rules for payment terms, Actal said.

Income-related benefits have now become so complicated that people are failing to make use of them because they fear they could end up having to pay back the money.

‘This cannot be solved by information technology alone,’ chairman Jan ten Hoopen told the Volkskrant.


At least 16 million of the country’s population of almost 17 million benefit from at least one of the measures, Ten Hoopen said. For example, everyone who has a job gets an extra tax break simply for working.

In addition, the measures sometimes conflict with each other or cancel each other out. ‘If your income rises because of one benefit, it could change your income definition for another.’ This makes income planning impossible and leaves many people unaware of what they are actually entitled to.

In order to simplify the system, the government needs to come up with a single definition for income and for assets and to insure all benefits are paid out at the same time, the organisation said in its conclusions.

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