Dual income families pay less tax than those with one breadwinner

New US ambassador to the Netherlands admits no-go comments were wrong

Single income families pay relatively more tax that households with two earners, the government's macro-economic policy unit CPB said in a new report on Thursday. Since 2005, the government has gradually been increasing the tax breaks available to dual income families to encourage more women to go out to work, a policy known as phasing out the kitchen sink subsidy. Last year, a single person earning €50,000 a year lost about 31% of his or her salary to tax. But a dual income couple paid around 26% in tax on their joint equivalent salary. The five percentage point gap between the two will widen to seven by 2030 if government policy remains unchanged, the CPB said. The current coalition government, with two Christian parties, has pledged to ensure 'balance' in the different tax pressure experienced by one and two income households. 'It is up to politicans to make a choice about this, but you could ask if it is achieving its aim,' CPB researcher Egbert Jongen, told Radio 1 news.  More >

No go for Wilders' Dutch discrimination

New US ambassador to the Netherlands admits no-go comments were wrong The public prosecution department said on Thursday that it will not proceed with a complaint made by anti-Islam campaigner Geert Wilders that prime minister Mark Rutte is discriminating against 'ordinary Dutchmen'. 'There is no question of an offence being committed,' the department said in a short statement on Twitter. In addition, the department said, it is not allowed by law to take action against ministers and only parliament or the king would be able to order the high court to take such a step. In a reaction, Wilders said the department was being cowardly and he will consider an appeal. Accommodation facilities for asylum seekers, free healthcare for refugees with no income and the abolition of dividend tax to attract overseas investors are all examples of legislation where the government discriminates in favour of foreigners, according to the PVV leader. Most of the complaints on the PVV website Rutte3discrimineert.nl focus on asylum seekers. Wilders has been prosecuted twice under discrimination laws in the last seven years. In 2011 he was cleared of insulting Muslims and inciting hatred and discrimination in a series of public statements and his documentary film, Fitna.  More >

Former prime minister Ruud Lubbers dies

Ruud Lubbers, youngest and longest-serving PM, dies aged 78 Christian Democratic party stalwart Ruud Lubbers, prime minister of the Netherlands from November 1982 until August 1994, died at his home in Rotterdam on Wednesday. He was 78. Lubbers was both the youngest-ever and longest-serving PM and one of the few to be honoured with the title of Minister of State upon his retirement, the Financieele Dagblad wrote on Thursday. Lubbers, scion of a Rotterdam business family, entered office when inflation stood at 6% and unemployment was headed toward a peak of 9%. Three long weeks later, he had masterminded the Wassenaar Agreement with employers and unions in which wage hikes were traded for shorter average working weeks. The famed Dutch 'polder model' of economic governance was born and formed the basis for long-term economic growth. 'He was a no-nonsense politician, someone who knew instinctively what had to be done,' one of his successors as prime minister, Jan Peter Balkenende, commented. In Lubbers' third and final term he tackled the WAO, the then bloated disability payments scheme with the aid of his economic affairs minister Wim Kok who would succeed him as prime minister.  In 1990, more than 900,000 people were receiving disability benefit. 'The Netherlands is sick,' he announced before setting out to reform the system. Europe To some, Lubbers was ranked among the great European leaders such as François Mitterand, Helmut Kohl and Margaret Thatcher. One of his campaign slogans was 'Meer markt, minder overheid' (more market, less government). Another high point of his career was overseeing the drafting in December 1991 of the  Treaty of Maastricht which opened the way for EU economic and monetary reform and the launch of the euro. Upon retirement, he served on a number of national and international committees and was UN High Commissioner for Refugees from 2001 to 2005. And he also returned to the family business Hollandia, a steel and machinery company, which built bridges.  In a way, Ruud Lubbers spent his life doing the same.  More >

Prime minister survives no confidence vote

New US ambassador to the Netherlands admits no-go comments were wrong Prime minister Mark Rutte survived a no confidence vote on Tuesday evening over his handling of the Halbe Zijlstra affair. Zijlstra stood down as foreign minister earlier in the day after admitting he lied about a meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin. Rutte told MPs during an emotional gathering that he had under-estimated the impact of Zijlstra's lie and had thought he could continue in the job because he had a good explanation. 'I thought it was a sin, but not a deadly sin,' Rutte said. He confirmed that Zijlstra had told him about the lie two weeks previously, after the foreign minister was contacted by the Volkskrant who wanted an interview. The delay was due to Zijlstra's busy diary and the fact he was ill for a time, Rutte said. 'There was no deliberate attempt to delay, but it would have been better if done sooner,' Rutte told MPs. Explosive Opposition MPs said they did not believe Rutte had so under-estimated the situation and said they could not imagine that the prime minister had not discussed such an explosive situation with others. 'There is a real lack of leadership,' said Forum voor Democratie'sThierry Baudet. 'How can the prime minister have wanted to keep Zijlstra on as foreign minister?' Tunakan Kuzu, leader of Denk, said during the debate: 'The reputation of our country has taken an enormous international hit'. Rutte survived the no-confidence vote by 43 votes to 101. The Socialists, PVV, Denk, pro-animal PvdD, Fvd and 50Plus all backed the motion.  More >

Who will be the next foreign minister?

Speculation starts about who will be the new Dutch foreign minister Sigrid Kaag, minister for foreign trade and development, is taking over the job as foreign minister pending the appointment of a new VVD department chief, following the resignation of Halbe Zijlstra. Insiders say it could be two weeks before a replacement for Zijlstra, who stepped down after admitting to lying about a meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin, is found. Prime minister Mark Rutte has also said he will take his time about appointing a new foreign minister. Among the names currently circulating is MP Han ten Broek, 48, who has been in the lower house since 2006 and is the party's spokesman on foreign affairs. Hans van Baalen, a former MP who is now a member of the European parliament, is another option, the Volkskrant said. Van Baalen, the paper points out, has plenty of foreign experience. Other options, the Volkskrant says, could include former health minister Edith Schippers, who has left politics but does not have another job, and Jeanine Hennis, the defence minister who quit after a critical report. According to the NRC, Hennis had been Rutte's candidate for the job before she was forced to stand down during the cabinet formation period.  More >