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y a Aw ter t a in Be e W s e Th Blu

Bremen Freimarkt: 17 October - 2 November 2008, 13:00 – 23:00 Monday to Thursday; 24:00 Fridays & Saturdays The Freimarkt in Bremen has been going on since the Middle Ages when it was first held on October 16 1035. It was a market for goods until the first carousel was added in 1809 and entertainment became part of the fun. These days, the Freimarkt includes exciting rides (and tame ones) and a program including concerts, fireworks, a parade, riverboat jazz, and a Middle Ages Market.

There are two venues for the Freimarkt: the Burgerweide which is within walking distance of the train station, and Market Square in the town centre where the Middle Ages Market is held. This old-time market brings back the year 1382 with street performances and artisans blowing glass and making crafts. There are coupon books available for sale at the railway station and Touristik-Zentrale which offer a 25% discount for the attractions. There are three types offered: for Family, for Kids, and for Action offering the most exciting rides. The city of Bremen is near Groningen and easily reached in 2.5 hours by car. It is also possible to take the train or Public Express bus.

Both public transit options offer the opportunity to stay a full day. Bremen would be an ideal weekend destination because it has much more to offer than can be seen in one day with UNESCO World Heritage sites, its charming city centre and bustling riverfront, its Universum Science Centre, museums, Germany’s largest contemporary art collection, and more probably everyone remembers the Bremen Town Musicians from Grimm’s fairytales. Bremen also offers a Christmas Market from 27 November to 23 December. A special feature of this Christmas market, is the Schlachte Zauber that brightens the riverside with traditional crafts, food specialties, and old-time atmosphere. (in English and German) (in German) (English, Dutch and German)

Margaret Metsala

Christmas Markets in Germany – End of November and most of December Christmas in The Netherlands has many good points. It’s a relief to this North American at least that it is not as commercialised as it is in Canada. Relieved from an extensive gift shopping list and the obligation to prepare a turkey dinner for a dozen people, there is time to really enjoy Christmas. Lots of time… and so, looking around, many of us might find that Dutch Christmas can be a little drab. That is why we go to Germany where the Weinacht Markets are held. Each year until around December 23, German city and town centres are alive with crowds of people enjoying the Christmas markets. The sights, smells and sounds of a typical market would include bratwurst roasting over an open fire, gluhwein (mulled wine), smoked almonds, colourful cookies and candies, children’s carousel, pony rides, and wood fires to warm up by. Stalls will sell a wide range of goods: knitted products, soaps,

ceramic houses (some copying existing historic buildings), Christmas tree decorations, wooden toys, games, gifts, collector’s mugs, jewellery, traditional crafts and much more. Just going for the atmosphere in the company of friends can make a German Christmas market memorable. Some Christmas markets are within reach of Groningen, and Oldenburg is one of the most heavily promoted with ads for bus tours appearing near the end of November. Oldenburg has a picturesque historic church as a backdrop for their market.

Other markets within easy reach are in Leer (small) and Bremen (large). provides a good list of markets with short descriptions of each.

Although they are currently showing 2007 dates, it remains a good guide for 2008. Each city will have something different to offer, in atmosphere and in products worth seeking out among the numerous stalls that are much the same everywhere. In Lubeck, look for the famous marzipan.

Margaret Metsala



y wa r A t e Bea Wint The lues B Eurosonic/Noorderslag

15, 16 and 17 January





What a way to begin the New Year. In the middle of January, Groningen becomes the place to be for European bands to find fame and fortune. This wildly popular event is attended by music lovers of every age who come from all over Europe to enjoy the weekend. Bands along with their friends and families, people in the music industry, and people searching out the excitement of maybe seeing the next big recording artist just starting out are also present. This festival is not just a showcase for existing bands but gives a lot of

newcomers the chance to introduce themselves to the public. The 'Popprijs', (Pop Prize) is considered an honour and is given to the best newcomer. They not only take home prize money of €10,000 but are also assured of a successful future in the music business. Attracting up to 15,000 people during its three days, ticket sales start early December and the event is quickly sold out. So, if you want to be assured of a ticket it pays to think ahead. During Eurosonic (Thursday and Friday) most of the venues where the bands play are all within walking distance, making it easy to hop from one to another. Many well-known bands have had their

start in Groningen. A good review of the Eurosonic or Noorderslag history is located at and is sure to contain some familiar band names. Websites and/or contain information about the upcoming 2009 event. Noorderslag, which is a showcase for Dutch bands, is held at Oosterpoort on Saturday night. Every concert hall and some of the common areas are filled with bands and their music. On this night, look for some of the bigger names in Dutch music to appear.

smoke free. 2009 will be the first Eurosonic/Noorderslag weekend that won’t smoke people out, maybe. (This is said with some reservation: Oosterpoort was a designated smoke-free building before smoke-free became law but this was ignored during the Noorderslag). Also during this three-day marathon there is the 'Noorderslag seminar', a perfect networking event for the multitude of professionals from the music business. This serves to give an idea as to the state of affairs of the music business both in Holland and internationally.

Really good news (for some of us at least) is that The Netherlands is

Do Something Crazy! We have given you tips to get you through the dark nights leading up to Christmas and shown you the musical bright spot in the middle of January. This leaves – the rest of winter. What to do? City trips are always popular for a day or for a weekend. The following suggestion is for a daytrip or it could be best suited for a weekend, but the title of this is Do Something Crazy. I will not recommend anything that I have not done myself, so bear with me:

Maastricht, Brussels (or Gent or Antwerp), Valkenburg, a couple of cities together (Middleburg and Vlissingen). Take the train. Leave early. Return late. Bring a travel pillow, a good book, and enjoy exploring a new place, perhaps take a guided tour. You can always go back for more.

Pieces of Groningen

Major Sneyd collected stained glass fragments from war-damaged buildings in Europe and documented the origin of each piece. The memorial window is made from these. In June of this year I visited this church to see the window and it is a beautiful piece, set high above the entry doors. Inside, upon closer inspection, it was grandly lit by the morning sun which made for good photographs. The window also contains an image of the Martini Tower which can be seen in one of these pictures. The church offers a book for sale

A little tidbit of information from a few years back popped into prominence before my trip to Canada and some online research turned up an interesting connection between Canada and Groningen. The Calvary Baptist church in the Toronto Beaches neighbourhood has a memorial stained glass window containing stained glass from the Martini Tower, collected by Canadian Army Chaplain Major Robert F. Sneyd, C.D., DD, when it was damaged during World War II.

A “super dag retour” (day return) to Brussels is only € 17,00 so all you need in addition is your fare through The Netherlands. I used a

€14.95 day ticket that I had on hand so my return fare was only € 31.95. My Belgian chocolates came to almost that much! Museums and art galleries are open all winter. One of the most charming museums I have ever seen is the Speelklok Museum in Utrecht. It can entertain even young children. One of the favourite exhibits for little ones is a musical rabbit that pops up and down in a hat. Older children might like the creative musical activities

offered upstairs. The guided tours that start every hour on the hour show the museum at its best. The guide will play a selection of instruments and explain how they work (in Dutch and in English upon request). The last suggestion wasn’t particularly crazy but after an insane day in Brussels a person needs some rest.

called Broken Glass: Shards of Battle Become a Living Memorial. It costs $25.00. I purchased one and anyone who is interested in seeing it may contact me through Connect to arrange an appointment. The book contains many anecdotes and facts that cannot be included here due to copyright restrictions. For more information, see:

Margaret Metsala



30% Tax Ruling - Do You Qualify? For some expatriates it's possible to claim the 30% ruling. This may be very beneficial since your taxable income will be reduced. What does the 30% ruling mean? The employer can reimburse the extra territorial costs of the employee tax free. To be able to do this the employee must hand over all the receipts and the employer must check and approve them. This can lead to a lot of work, especially if more employees are in a similar situation. To make it easier employer and employee can request the tax office (foreign tax office in Heerlen) to grant the 30% ruling to the employee for his activities for the employer. This way the employer can, once granted, pay out a tax free allowance of (roughly said) 30% of the salary of the employee. The 30% allowance will be included in the salary in such way that the costs for the employer will not be higher, while the employee has a higher net salary. The allowance will therefore not be paid on top of the earlier agreed gross salary. If a net salary agreement was made then the benefit will go to the employer.

for education, with the exception of costs and accommodation expenses but including travelling expenses. It's not allowed to split the gross salary mentioned in the employment agreement in a taxable part of 70% and a non-taxable part of 30%. Instead the gross salary must be reduced to 70% on top of which a tax free remuneration of 30% can be paid. Consequence is that all the rights based on the gross salary will be reduced too like pension and social security. An appendix to the

ers shall demonstrate anew that the tive months in the Netherlands for employee is to be designated as an holiday, family visit or other entered employee. personal circumstances. After 5 years proof required

Start Date

Should the entered employee no longer possess specific expertise that is scarce or absent on the job market in the Netherlands, the term shall be reduced to the time this situation arises but be no less than five years.

Should the request be made within four months after the start of employment as an extraterritorial employee by the employer, the decision shall be retroactive to the start of employment as extraterritorial employee. If the request is made later, the decision shall apply

Starting the sixth year of the term the tax inspector may require the employer to demonstrate that the employee must still be considered an entered employee.

starting the first day of the month following the month in which the request is made.


The expatriate must be an employee who is hired in another country by an employer or sent to an employer within the same group of companies at management level, with a specific expertise that is scarce or absent on the job market in the Netherlands. Remuneration and provisions to extraterritorial employees to compensate or prevent expenses outside the country of origin shall, with respect to employees arriving at the joint request of the employee and the employer, in any case be considered remuneration for extraterritorial expenses up to (proof scheme):

a. 30% of the basis, this being the sum of the wage (including bonusses etc.) received associated with the stay outside the country of origin to the extent the entered or transferred employee has no right in this regard to prevent double taxation, and remuneration for extraterritorial expenses; b. the amount of the tuition fees. Tuition fees are payments for children of the extraterritorial employee to participate in primary or secondary education at international schools and international departments of noninternational schools, up to the amounts charged by the school according to its rates

employment agreement must be made.

For the evaluation of whether an entered employee possesses specific expertise that is scarce or absent on the job market in the Netherlands, account shall be taken of the interrelationship of the following factors, to the extent relevant:

a. the level of education of the employee; b. the experience of the employee relevant to the position; c. the salary of the function concerned in the Netherlands in comparison to that in the country of origin of the employee. An employee of middle management or higher of an international concern with at least two and a half years experience in that concern who is sent in the framework of job circulation to the Netherlands, shall be considered to have specific expertise that is scarce or absent on the job market in the Netherlands. Term

For entered employees the term of the proof scheme is a maximum of ten years, starting on the first day of employment by the employer. Change of employer

Should an entered employee have another employer during the term, the proof scheme shall remain in force at the joint request of the employee and the new employer for the remainder of the term, providing the period between the end of employment by the former employer and the start of employment by the new employer is no longer than three months.

For such a request the new employ

Should the employer demonstrate as from the sixth year of the term that the employee should at that time still be considered an entered employee, section two shall no longer apply for the remaining term. Prior stay in the Netherlands Should an entered employee have worked or stayed in the Netherlands prior to the start of employment, the term shall be reduced by the periods of prior employment and prior stay. Periods of prior employment and prior stay that terminated more than fifteen years before the term of employment shall not be take into account. Periods of prior employment and prior stay that terminated by more than ten years but less than fifteen years prior to employment shall not be taken into account if the entered employee has not worked or stayed in the Netherlands for a period of ten years. The entered employee will not have worked in the Netherlands if he worked in the country for a maximum of twenty days in every calendar year for the period of ten years. For application of section three the entered employee will not have stayed in the Netherlands if in every calendar year of the period of ten years he did not stay in the Netherlands for a total of six weeks for holiday, family visit or other personal circumstances, with a one-off period not being taken into account of at most three consecu

A request for application or continued application of the proof scheme with respect to an entered employee shall be made to the tax inspector (tax office in Heerlen). He shall decide on the request for a decision that is eligible for objection. Non-resident status An expatriate who qualifies as a resident taxpayer of The Netherlands, can opt to be taxed as a deemed non-resident taxpayer. As a deemed non-resident taxpayer, the expatriate need not report any investment income to the Dutch Revenue (except for Dutch source income, such as Dutch real estate). The choice will be made in the application form but can be changed every year. The expatriate can still deduct certain personal expenses (i.e. alimony payments, medical expenses etc.). Expatax can assist you with the whole application procedure. We are very experienced with the 30% ruling and the application and have many companies as our client for which we take care of all the requests for their employees. If you would like us to assist you or your company please contact us for the list of required documents. Our fees are mentioned on our fee schedule. Head Office (Utrecht) Tel. 030-246 85 36

21 connections autumn2008  
21 connections autumn2008