Lunch at the office – The Possibilities


In the Netherlands businesses are exempted from tax when providing their employees with food and drink, as this is regarded as indirect remuneration in kind. Consequently, the tax administration office does not allow wages to be paid to employees tax free.

Tax-free payment to employees

The employer may pay out their employees free of tax once per year in the form of remuneration in kind. As a Christmas bonus, for example, but also to compensate for lunch. The sum of this amount is equal to 1.2% of the total fiscal annual salary. In the case of the above example, this amounts to € 576 per employee.


12 * € 4.000 * 1,2% = € 576


The employer is allowed to reimburse this amount annually free of tax. A contribution by the employee will be deducted from the actual amount.

In Practice

The tax authorities have implemented standard costs with regard to meals. Regardless of the price of the meal, this means that a standard amount of € 3,35 is to be added to the taxable salary of the employee. Note: this is minus the amount contributed by the employee.


The gross wages are therefore higher and the employee is to pay more income tax, which is withheld by the employer.


Below you can see an example of this in effect. For this calculation, a gross salary of € 4.000 and an income tax of 40% is being used. The first column represents the amount paid by the employer to the employee. The actual price is disregarded, as a standard amount of €3,35 is added to the salary. In the second column, the employer does not pay anything and as such there is no additional tax liability.


Employer pays everythingEmployee pays everything
Gross salary€ 4.000€ 4.000
Additional tax liability (20 days * € 3,35)€ 67€ 0
Salary tax (~40%) + Additional tax liability€ 1.626,80€ 1.600




Salary after tax€ 2.373,20€ 2.400


A paid lunch by the employer results in a lower net salary for the employee: € 26,80 lower, in this case, but with a complimentary lunch. Alternatively, when an employee provides their own lunch, this will most likely result in much higher costs.


The example below shows us a scenario in which both employer and employee contribute to the lunch costs.


Employee pays everything € 1,00Employee pays everything € 2,00Employee pays everything € 3,35
Gross salary€ 4.000€ 4.000€ 4.000
Additional tax liability (€ 3,35 * 20 days, minus additional tax liability)€ 48€ 28
Tax(40%)€ 1.618,40€ 1.610,40€ 1.600





Salary after tax€ 2.381,60€ 2.390€ 2.400
Lunch contribution employee (20 days)€ 20€ 40€ 67
Net salary€ 2.361,60€ 2,349,60€ 2,333,00


The employee’s net salary is highest when the employer pays for the meal.

Employer accounts for income tax

Alternatively, the employer could also choose to account for the income tax by deducting tax at source. In this case, the costs will be accounted for completely by the employer: the employer pays 80% of the net salary as tax. The meals will not have to be accounted for per employee. A total of all meals will be calculated by multiplying this by the standard fee of € 3,35 times the 80%. The employer will thus pay € 2,68 of tax per lunch.


Note: the actual costs of the lunch are always subject to deduction for corporate tax

Let’s do lunch!

Send us a message as we would love look into the possibilities of providing you with delicious, diverse, and warm lunches.

Who has joined us for lunch already?