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ANW, WAO-WIA, heffings and kortings: Here’s how to decipher your Dutch pay slip

So you’ve been told your salary will be €4,500 a month but when you look at your bank account, you see an amount that is way, way lower than that. Here’s how to decipher your salarisstrook or pay slip.

Every employee in the Netherlands receives a pay slip each month – nowadays usually by email. Most of us only check the net amount, but the document contains a lot of other figures, percentages and weird acronyms as well. Here’s a quick summary of the most important parts.  

General information
Usually, your personal details (name, date of birth, address, BSN, martial status etc.) and information about your job (the date you started, your job title, your basic salary or hourly rate) are shown at the top of the document. This is the easy part. You should be able to check if this information is correct (and contact the HR department of your company if something is wrong).

Your gross salary (brutoloon) is the first amount in the middle section of the pay slip. This is your salary before taxes and other costs are deducted. Your employer withholds wage tax and social security contributions (added together they form income tax) and other costs from your gross salary and transfers this to the Dutch tax office on your behalf.

This is the general name for all the different social security contributions you are required by law to pay over your salary. Your pay slip probably specifies the loonheffing, or wage tax, by displaying strange abbreviations.

These are your contributions towards the various benefits which you may end up claiming at some point: unemployment benefit (WW), state pension (AOW), paid sick leave (ZW), benefits for widows and widowers (ANW) and benefits for inability to work due to ill health or disability (WAO-WIA).

In the Netherlands, every employee is entitled to (a minimum of) 8% of their annual earnings as holiday pay. So if you are earning €4,500 a month, in May you can expect an additional €4,320 in vakantiegeld.

The holiday allowance is only applicable to your gross salary, so bonuses or allowances are not added in to the calculations. Holiday pay is also taxed more heavily than ordinary salary, so you mind find the actual extra amount you get a little disappointing. Of that €4,320, you’ll see about €2,200 added to your take home pay.

If you travel to work by car or public transport, your employer may reimburse you for the costs. For each kilometer you travel by car or by bike, you are entitled to 19 cents. The cost of using public transport may be fully refunded by your employer, depending on your contract. Travel expenses are exempt from income tax, to a certain extent.

This is the amount you will find on your bank account when all the taxes and premiums have been paid – and any bonuses have been taken into account.

Please be aware that your employer pays everything provisionally. So at the end of the year when you file your income tax return, you can check if everything has been estimated correctly. For more help feel free to contact Blue Umbrella by email: or by phone: +31 (0) 20 4687560.

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