The Rise and Fall of Progressive Income Taxation in the Netherlands (1795-2001)

British Tax Review 2007 (3), pp. 255-279

23 Pages Posted: 12 Mar 2016

See all articles by Henk Vording

Henk Vording

Leiden University - Leiden Law School

Onno Ydema

Leiden University

Date Written: December 10, 2007


This paper offers an overview of the thinking on personal income taxation in the Netherlands over the last two centuries. The starting point is the short-lived 1795 income tax, and the subject finds its logical finale in the Income Tax Act 2001. In between lies first a century of mainly theoretical debate up to the adoption of the income taxes of 1892 and 1893, and thereafter a century of growing practical issues concerning the role, scope and effectiveness of the income tax.

This paper focuses on the rhetoric of income taxation: the way in which arguments relating to the fundamental characteristics of income taxation – the concept of income and the tax rate structure – were developed and accepted in the political debate. It also explores how the idea of progressive income taxation was put to the test in the Netherlands with doubtful success up to 1940. In a brief last section, post-1945 developments towards a less progressive tax are discussed.

Keywords: history of income taxation, Netherlands income tax

JEL Classification: H24

Suggested Citation

Vording, Henk and Ydema, Onno, The Rise and Fall of Progressive Income Taxation in the Netherlands (1795-2001) (December 10, 2007). British Tax Review 2007 (3), pp. 255-279, Available at SSRN:

Henk Vording (Contact Author)

Leiden University - Leiden Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 9520
2300 RA Leiden, NL-2300RA

Onno Ydema

Leiden University ( email )

Postbus 9500
Leiden, Zuid Holland 2300 RA

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