Charitable deduction

How effective is the charitable deduction in the Netherlands? Did the ‘Law on Giving’ (‘Geefwet’), introduced in 2012 and including a multiplier for donations to cultural nonprofit organizations, effectively enhance charitable giving to arts and culture? This is the focus of two studies conducted at the Center for Philanthropic Studies at VU Amsterdam in from 2015 to 2017, funded by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. The research of the first study was conducted by René Bekkers, Saskia Franssen, and Elly Mariani and published in June 2016. A summary in English is here. The research of the second study was conducted by René Bekkers, Floor de Nooij and Suzanne Felix. A summary in English is not yet available.




The first publication from this research project was a chapter in the Giving in the Netherlands 2015 book (in Dutch), in which the changes in giving by households, high net worth households and corporations were mapped from 2011 to 2013:

In short: donations to culture have not increased in 2013. A higher proportion of wealthy households donated to culture in 2013 than in previous years, but the amounts donated have declined. The tax reform is not very well known.

These results were published on April 23, 2015, on the National Day of Philanthropy – the presentation can be downloaded here.

A second paper in Dutch summarized these findings:

The final report of the first study was published in June 2016. A summary in English is here.


A bit of history

The charitable deduction was introduced in 1952 and costs the state several hundred million Euros of foregone income tax per year. In 2009, the Ministry of Finance had the tax authorities evaluate the deduction, concluding that the ‘effect of the deduction could not be proven’. Subsequently, an advisory commission scrutinizing income tax deductions called the findings a ‘negative evaluation’ and recommended cutting the deduction to simplify the income tax. The minister of Finance passed on this advice to parliamentRead comments on the negative evaluation in this article and also in this article (both in Dutch).

Despite the recommendation, however, the charitable deduction was retained in the new income tax for 2012. The charitable deduction fits in the social responsibility philosophy of the new cabinet. The philosophy was put into action in a ‘convenant’ with the philanthropic sector, signed on June 21, 2011. The agreement is described in English here. In addition, a new ‘Law on Giving’ was announced, which has passed parliament and has taken effect as of January 1, 2012. Details about the law can be found here (in Dutch). A description in English is available here. The new law includes a ‘multiplier’, specifically for donations to culture and the arts by households (1.25, or a quarter) and corporations (1.50). The multiplier increases the level of deduction for donations to organisations officially registered as charitable causes – in the sector of arts and culture, that is. Here you can read more about the rules for cultural deductions.

Back in 2011 I wrote an article with my colleague Elly Mariani for the WPNR, a Dutch journal for notaries on the behavioral effects of the Law on Giving. The article is available here (in Dutch). You can find the appendix to the article ‘Gedragseffecten van de Geefwet’ here. Read more on the legal aspects of the deduction in this article by Sigrid Hemels. Thus far, the debate in the Netherlands has not profited much from a reading of the international literature. Here is a nice blogpost from my UK colleague Sarah Smith at Bristol University.

The new study investigates the potential effects among donors as well as among fundraising nonprofits. By looking at changes in corporate and household giving since the introduction of the multiplier for donations to cultural nonprofits we investigate whether total giving has increased, and whether substitution to cultural donations may have occurred. To investigate these changes, we use data from the past two waves of the Giving in the Netherlands Panel Survey. By looking at changes in behavior of cultural nonprofits we investigate whether organizations have responded to the enhanced deductability of cultural donations by more intensive fundraising activity and whether they have advertised the new law in their communications with donors. More detailed information about the study among cultural nonprofits is available on a separate website (in Dutch).


Further reading


8 responses to “Charitable deduction

  1. Pingback: Tien Filantropie Trends | Rene Bekkers

  2. Michael J Occhipinti

    Under Dutch law, is an individual’s bequest to a qualified charity deductible from estate taxation?

    • Dear Michael, thank you for your question. Yes, bequests to registered charities or Public Benefit Organizations (PBOs) are exempt from estate tax. In Dutch, registered charities are called ANBI, acronym for “Algemeen Nut Beogende Instelling”. They are exempt from paying taxes. See

      • Michael Occhipinti

        Many thanks, Rene.
        One more question, how does the Dutch law treat gifts of appreciated assets–for example securities, real estate, and so forth?
        In the US, donors are able to deduct the asset’s fair market value and avoid the tax on the capital gains.
        Michael Occhipinti

      • As far as I know, it doesn’t matter whether the bequest consists of cash, money in an account, securities or goods in kind such as residential property. As long as the recipient is a registered charity, the tax exemption holds. But just to be sure I would recommend you get in touch with the bequest service desk at goede doelen nederland, the branch organisation of charities. I am sorry the organization does not have an English website, but if you write a message or call them they’ll be able to help you.

      • Michael Occhipinti

        With regard to the gifts of appreciated assets, what I was referring to are gift *during the person’s lifetime*, not via a bequest. How does Dutch treat them?

        *From:* Rene Bekkers [] *Sent:* Sunday, May 20, 2018 7:06 PM *To:* *Subject:* [New comment] Charitable deduction

        Rene Bekkers commented: “As far as I know, it doesn’t matter whether the bequest consists of cash, money in an account, securities or goods in kind such as residential property. As long as the recipient is a registered charity, the tax exemption holds. But just to be sure I would”

      • I am not sure – I think you need a valuation and a deed to make them tax deductible, but I am not a tax lawyer.

Leave a Reply to Rene Bekkers Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s