Paying out bonuses under WKR


December 17, 2020

Paying out bonuses under WKR

A wage is anything that’s earned through employment. This also includes reimbursements in kind, expense allowances, etc. So officially, wage tax must be paid over these expenses. This also applies to a DGA (director and major shareholder). However, there a number of exceptions and these are regulated in the WKR (work-related costs scheme).

Work-related costs scheme

As mentioned before, all income earned as a result of employment is taxed, but there are a number of exceptions such as zero valuations, specific exemptions and the discretionary scope. In this article we’ll discuss the discretionary scope, what it entails, and how you can benefit from it as a DGA!

Using the discretionary scope of the WKR, an employer is allowed to give a maximum of 3% of up to €400,000 to his or her employees. Where the wage bill exceeds €400,000 this percentage is 1.7. This can be in the form of tax-free allowances, benefits in kind and dispositions. You don’t pay any payroll tax over this! Should you, as the employer, exceed this 3%, you’ll pay a final levy which is set at 80%.


In general, you can provide all kinds of things to your staff and file them under the discretionary scope of 3%. For example: Christmas gifts, drinks and dinners with your staff, a company bicycle, but also a bonus payment. And of course, this also applies to you as the DGA!

Since a DGA is also an employee of the BV, or of your holding company, the WKR also applies to you. If you have not yet used the entire discretionary scope over the year, you can use it to give yourself an end-of-year bonus.

Conventionality test

The untaxed allowances, benefits in kind and dispositions that you provide to your staff must, however, meet the conventionality test. This means that they should not deviate by more than 30% of what is customary in comparable circumstances. For example, for someone in the banking sector it’s more common to receive a higher bonus pay than for someone working in healthcare.

The Dutch Tax and Customs Administration treats reimbursements of up to € 2,400 as common. This means that, if you have a discretionary scope of €2,400, you can give this to yourself as a bonus without getting in trouble with the tax authorities regarding the conventionality test.

Paying out bonuses under WKR

Final levy

From a tax perspective, it can be interesting to choose a higher bonus than the discretionary scope allows. The amount by which the bonus exceeds the discretionary scope is seen as final levy and so you’ll pay 80% over it.

A calculation will illustrate why it might be more profitable to opt for a bonus that exceeds the discretionary scope.

Let’s take a DGA who earns €100,000. This is taxed at 49.5%. The discretionary scope allows for a bonus of €1,200 (that’s 3%) to be paid out. Now there are 3 options that make it possible to actually pay yourself €2,400 net. For this, we’re assuming that a €2,400 bonus is conventional. In some cases, a higher bonus might also be common business.

1. Pay out as net salary

If you pay out a net salary of €2,400, you pay €2,400 / 50.5% = €2,448 in payroll taxes. In this case, the total costs for the BV are €4,848.

2. Using the discretionary scope and pay part out as net salary

In this case, you pay out €1,200 tax-free using the discretionary scope. The remaining €1,200 is paid out as net salary. You pay payroll tax over this. The gross salary of €1,200 net is €2,376. In this case, the total wage costs will be €3,576.

3. Paying everything as WKR

If you pay out €2,400 net as WKR, but you only have a discretionary scope of €1,200, you’ll pay a final tax of 80% on the second €1,200. This means that you pay 80% * 1,200 = €960 in payroll taxes. In this case, the total wage costs will be €3,360.

As you can see, in some cases, and despite a final levy of 80%, it can be interesting to choose to exceed the free space for net payments.

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