We’ve already got tax-friendly gym memberships, training courses and company bicycle plans. So why can’t you deduct your monthly student loan repayments from your gross salary?

Collective bargaining negotiations

CNV’s youth branch is planning to put this new idea on the table in several upcoming collective bargaining negotiations. If the union is successful, employees will be able to repay part of their student loans tax-free.

“One of our members asked us about this”, says Justine Feitsma, president of CNV Jongeren. “Would it be possible to use the IKB scheme for student loan repayments? It already covers training courses, so why shouldn’t you be able to use it for the degree programme that got you your job?”

The Individueel Keuzebudget (IKB) scheme exempts part of an employee’s salary from income tax. This exempt portion must be used for a specific ‘tax-privileged purpose’. Employers can use the scheme not only to help their staff get fit, continue learning or cycle to work, but also to reimburse them for home office furniture, union dues or extra travel expenses – tax-free.

'Worth a shot'

Shouldn’t the tax authority greenlight the idea before student loan repayments are added to the list of tax-privileged purposes? Feitsma wants to go the reverse route: get it in collective labour agreements first and then wait for a ruling by the tax authority. “It’s worth a shot”, she says.

The IKB accounts for about 16 per cent of salary, and half of it is spent on leave. On a salary of 2.500 euros, this leaves roughly 200 euros a month for tax-free student loan repayments (according to the back of our envelope).

It should be noted, however, that many collective agreements do not include an IKB scheme. But, says Feitsma: “Our negotiators are excited about the idea. Sectors that include this in their collective agreements can give themselves an edge in attracting recent graduates.”


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