There are still no consequences for an employee’s fixed travel allowance if commuting habits change as a result of working from home more often due to the coronavirus measures. Until at least April 1, 2021, the untaxed fixed travel allowance may still be based on the original commuting habits of the employee.
Soon after the announcement that the regulation which approves the continued payment of an untaxed fixed travel allowance was scheduled to end after December 31, 2020, the government decided to nonetheless extended the regulation until February 1, 2021. In the new package of emergency measures, the temporary regulation has been further extended until April 1, 2021 as a result of the current lockdown.
Not for new employees
The condition remains that the regulation only concerns a fixed travel allowance which an employee also received before March 13, 2020. This means, for instance, that an employer cannot continue to pay an untaxed fixed travel allowance for days worked from home to employees who started working after March 13, 2020. Of course, the employer still has the option to pay an untaxed reimbursement for the actual kilometers traveled at a rate of € 0.19 per kilometer. Or alternatively – if the employer prefers to continue paying a fixed travel allowance – (s)he can make sure that the portion of the allowance applying to days the employee works from home is subject to taxation. The employer can also opt to designate the (taxed portion of the) allowance as wages subject to a final levy (‘eindheffingsloon’ in Dutch) and include it in the ‘vrije ruimte’ (the scope of tax-free accumulated personnel costs).
Continuation of fixed travel allowance is not mandatory
There is no legal obligation for your organization to continue paying a fixed travel allowance to employees who do not incur commuting expenses. If an employee (partially) works from home or stays home due to sickness for a long period of time, it is more than fair to (partially) stop the payment of an allowance. The continuation is only mandatory if the terms of employment, the employee manual, the contract or the collective labor agreement stipulates that employees who are absent must continue to receive a fixed travel allowance.
If not mentioned otherwise, it suffices to notify employees in writing that the payment of their fixed travel allowance will be stopped. It is recommend to give an explanation for why this happens, for example because of necessary cost savings.