Institutionen för handelsrätt

Ekonomihögskolan vid Lunds universitet

The position of married women in Dutch income tax law since 1893


Welcome to a seminar with Visiting professor Sigrid Hemels.

The topic is described below

For a long time, married women were treated differently from married men in the Dutch personal income tax Act. Where Sweden already introduced individual taxation in 1971, in the Netherlands married women were only given full equal treatment in 1984. The personal income tax reflected the political, religious and legal situation in the Netherlands, but also lagged clearly behind. During the seminar figures on religiosity in the Netherlands will be discussed. Also, the civil law code which put married women in a disadvantaged position until 1971 is discussed. The fact that Dutch women upon marriage lost their right to manage their possession led the Dutch lawyer Van Oven to write in 1927 : “Is the Dutch woman so much less than the Swiss, Swedish or Finnish woman?” (Ch. van Oven, Hervorming van ons huwelijksrecht, Nederlandsch Juristenblad 1927, vol. 2, issue 22, p. 329-333). Furthermore, Dutch labour law for a long time included discriminatory provisions regarding married women. Until 1956 female civil servants and teachers under 45 were dismissed if they married and the right to equal pay for men and women was only introduced in 1975 (notwithstanding the fact that the Netherlands was one of the founding members of the European Economic Community which had equal pay of man and women in its founding Treaty of Rome). Unsurprisingly, the participation of married women in the labour market was relatively low. Still many married women only work part time and are not economically independent from their husbands.

Currently, there is a strong pressure in the Netherlands to take a step back again in the income tax system. Christian parties and some academics have criticized the current Dutch semi-individual tax system in which single earner families pay more tax than double earner families. The academics suggested the introduction of a family taxation with a splitting system such as exists in Germany to reduce the tax burden of single income earners. I understand that also in Sweden there is critique on the individual tax system and that there are pleas for a splitting system. I would be very interested to hear more about that during the seminar. 

My problem with a splitting system is that in such system the spouse with low income in a dual income earner family would pay significantly more tax. As most Dutch women work part-time and earn less than their partner and taking into account price-elasticities, this compensation of single income earning families would result in a disincentive for married women to work and gain economic independence. Given the high divorce rate of 40% in the Netherlands this is a serious issue. I would be very interested to know the opinion of the attendants to the seminar on this topic. 

About Sigrid Hemels

Sigrid Hemels ( is a Visiting Professor in Tax Law in Hedda Andersson’s name at the Department of Business Law of LUSEM up and until April 2020. She is also a full professor of Tax Law at the Erasmus University Rotterdam School of Law and member of the tax team of Allen & Overy LLP, Amsterdam. 

Please notify Ellen Kjellberg ( at the latest in the end of November if you wish to attend. You will then also be sent a paper written by Sigrid.

7 december 2018


Holger Crafoords Ekonomicentrum EC2
Ole Römers väg 6
223 63 Lund


Ellen Kjellberg