One of the best secrets kept from international students in the Netherlands is the fact that many of them are eligible to receive government welfare support towards the cost of their rent, known as huurtoeslag. While it sounds too good to be true, it definitely isn't. The only problem is that the government likes to make the process as opaque and confusing as it can in order to deter as many people from applying as possible. In this article, we will guide you through the process of applying for huurtoeslag.
You can receive housing allowance if:
Note: You should check with your housing company before you apply as many student housing companies have agreements with the government to still be eligible. Some student housing companies unfortunately are not eligible so make sure to double-check before you apply or you may have to pay back the money!
You apply for housing allowance for 2011 using specially prepared software, which you can download via the previous link in the title. You should apply before April 1st as this is the final deadline for 2011 huurtoeslag.
The software is unfortunately all in Dutch, but if you follow these instructions along with the screenshots we've provided, you should be able to apply quite easily.
Note: The Belastingdienst (tax office) does have an English version of their site, but it does not mention the housing or health insurance allowances. This doesn't mean that you cannot apply!
Open the software. This will take you to the introduction page which explains how to use it.
The first question mark explains that you can use this software in order to apply for, change, or stop huurtoeslag (rent allowance) or zorgtoeslag (insurance allowance) for 2011.
The second question mark explains where you can get help to use the software. This includes clicking on the question marks for short explanations, clicking 'help' or F1 for more information, going back to the website, www.toeslagen.nl, calling the 'Belasting Telefoon' or the 'tax number' at (0800 - 0543), or clicking 'Instellingen' to adjust the Accessibility Options.
The third question mark explains what you must have in order to apply. You will need your burgerservicenummer/sofinummer (your citizen service number that you received after registering with your municipality), and, if you live with a partner or flatmates, you may also need their burgerservicenummer. You will also need your DigiD login information, and your last income tax, annual statement, or pay stub. If you're applying for the huurtoeslag, you'll need your rent information as well.
Once you've gotten all of these documents together and are ready to apply, click on 'ga verder' on the bottom right hand corner of the page.
The following page is the first step to applying (or changing your application) for allowances. You must fill in your initials and your last name in the first two boxes. The next box is for your BSN/sofinummer. The third box is for your birthday (dd, mm, yyyy).
The following question asks if you'd like to make a change in the heath allowance you currently already receive. If you select 'nee', you will then be asked if you'd like to apply for insurance allowance for 2011. If you select 'ja', you will be asked if you'd like to stop your insurance allowance for 2011.
The second set of questions is similar to the first, but is for huurtoeslag, or rental allowance. Would you like to make a change on your rental allowance? Selecting 'nee' will ask you if you'd like to apply for huurtoeslag for 2011, while selecting 'ja' will then ask you if you'd like to stop your huurtoeslag.
In order to apply for huurtoeslag, for example, you must select 'nee' for each question until you reach "Wilt u huurtoeslag 2011 aanvragen?..." Select 'ja'. You will then be asked to fill in the date of when you'd like your huurtoeslag to begin. Once you've finished filling out this section, click 'akkoord' to move on to the next step.
You may get a 'Let op!' pop-up before moving onto the next step that ensures you have not applied for huurtoeslag in the previous year (2010). If you have, you don't need to re-apply. However, if changes to your situation or income have occurred, you must use the software to report these. Click 'nee' to stay in the screen. Click 'ja' to save your details.
The next page provides you with a recap of your information and asks you about your financial situation. The first question asks if you've recently done an income tax return. You then must fill in your income for the year. The first box is for an annual statement while the second is for a pay slip. The third is for income that you may have made outside the Netherlands and is not taxed in the Netherlands or is exempt under international agreements. You are then asked to come up with the total amount of income for 2011. Press 'akkoord' to move onto the next step.
The next section asks you about your current living situation. On January 1st, 2011, did you have a spouse or registered partner? Did other people live in your residence on January 1st, 2011? If you select 'nee' for both, you will reach 'U hebt geen toeslagpartner' meaning 'you do not have a partner allowance'. Once you've clicked 'akkoord', you will move onto the next step.
You must then fill out the information for the residence you wish to apply for housing allowance for. The first two boxes are for your house number and street address. The next two boxes are for your postal code and city. You must then select what kind of residence you live in. If you live in a dorm-like situation, select 'aangewezen groepswoning' which means 'appointed group living'. (You should check with your housing provider in order to see if your building or residence qualifies for huurtoeslag before applying). Click 'akkoord' to move onto the next step.
This screen will ask you details about your rental situation. The first box is for your basic rent amount. This is EXCLUDING utilities, service fees, and other costs which are filled out in the following boxes. The second box asks for energy costs for common areas. The third box asks for cleaning costs for common areas. The fourth box is for caretaker costs. The fifth box is for capital and maintenance costs for service and recreation areas. The last box is the added total of all of these costs which then make up your total rent calculation. The question at the bottom asks if you have subletted any part of your residence. After pressing 'akkoord', you can move on to the next step.
Here you must fill in the information of your landlord and their address details. The first box is for the name of your landlord (housing company). The next box is for your landlord's house number and street. The third line of boxes is for the landlord's postal code and city. The fourth line is for the number of your landlord, if registered with the Chamber of Commerce. (All housing companies and other businesses are registered. If you can't find this number in your contract, you can search for it on kvk.nl). Click 'akkoord' to move on to the following step.
On this step you need to fill in the rekeningnummer of your Dutch bank account. This is so that you can receive the payments.
The first question asks whether you have discussed with your landlord whether or not the funds will be transferred to his bank account.
The second question asks whether you would like to receive the huurtoeslag and the zorgtoeslag in the same account.
You must log in to your DigiD account in order for the system to confirm your details and so that you can 'sign' the application virtually. Click 'Inloggen met DigiD'. Type in your username and password to log in to your DigiD account.
Once you've logged into your DigiD, you will be asked to virtually sign your application. This screen confirms your information and asks you for your 'ondertekenen'.
Once you've clicked on this to virtually sign the application, you will reach the following page which confirms your signature. Click 'Verzenden' to send your application and finish the process.
Once you've applied, you should receive two letters at your registered address (this process can take around 8 weeks). One letter will be a confirmation of your application with the estimated amount you will receive as your allowance. The second is a letter from the tax office to confirm that you've applied and that the bank account registered is correct. You must sign and date the back of this letter and send it back in the envelope they provide you with. You receive the allowance around the 20th of each month, and you should see your first installment within the month.
You must stop your allowance yourself meaning that you must reopen the software and make changes to your application. In order to stop the allowance, you must fill out the date you'd like to stop it (your last day of rent on your contract) and you must re-sign into your DigiD to confirm and send the application to stop.
Open the software and select which allowance you'd like to change. Select that you'd like to stop this allowance.
Fill in the date for when you'd like the allowance to stop.
Log in to your DigiD.
Confirm that you'd like to stop your allowance from said date to said date.
'Sign' your change to your application.
If you do not do this, you may have to pay back some of your housing allowance. This is because at the end of each year, the municipality makes a final calculation, where they will work how much housing allowance you are actually entitled to, depending on your income if you have some. If they have paid you in excess, you are required to pay it back.
For 2012, the tax office has changed the system so that you can sign in with your DigiD and apply directly online. More information on this is provided on the Belastingdienst website, but is currently only available in Dutch. We're working on providing you with an English step-by-step guide as soon as possible!
These guides are never finished.
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