Keeping accounts


Business in the Netherlands are legally obliged to keep accounts and to retain them for seven years and keep data related to immovable property for 10 years. The obligation also applies if a business ceases trading within the specified period.

This fiscal retention obligation applies to both paper and electronic versions of the administration. The accounts constitute the basis for tax returns. For entrepreneurs operating within a legal form without corporate personality it is also essential to record the number of hours worked (even those prior to the official launch of their company), as this number will determine whether you are eligible for certain income tax allowances. Costs incurred before the official start of business may count as operating expenses as well.


Requirements for the accounts

The accounts must satisfy various requirements. For example, for the purposes of turnover tax, businesses must keep a record of the invoices paid and issued, of your income and expenditure, of the volume of your imports and exports and whether the imports/exports involve EU Member States or non-EU countries. Special requirements also apply to invoices and business correspondence. In addition, businesses must keep such documents as receipts, bank statements and diaries for seven years.


Requirements for invoices

Invoices have to meet a number of statutory requirements. Businesses are legally obliged to state a number of basic details on all invoices, such as their VAT number, the VAT amount and the invoice date. The invoices must also be numbered sequentially. Invoices which do not fulfill these requirements need to be rectified. This is particularly important for turnover tax (VAT) since the business clients will not be entitled to VAT deduction in case the invoices do not satisfy the requirements. Businesses providing goods or services other EU Member States must also indicate their customer’s VAT number. In addition, they are obliged to specify what goods or services were provided and when.



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