Finalise your NOW application
The NOW (Employment Bridging Emergency Fund) scheme has been launched as a (temporary) wage cost allowance scheme for use by COVID-affected businesses in the Netherlands. The particulars of NOW‑1, this being the first tier of the NOW scheme, stipulate that wage cost allowance eligibility will apply to businesses having suffered a sales drop of 20 percent or more during the “corona period” compared with the three-month average of their 2019 sales. It is up to the entrepreneur to choose between the first of March, the first of April or the first of May 2020 as the opening date of the sales decline period, whose sole (other) criterion is that it should cover three consecutive calendar months. The wage cost allowance has been maximised at 90 percent for businesses whose sales have dried up altogether. NOW‑2, this being the second tier of the NOW scheme, covers a period of four months and is to be compared – in terms of sales decline – with a third of the annual sales the relevant business achieved for 2019 as a whole.
The accounting law definition of “sales” has been adhered to, in that the sales level is to be calculated net of discounts and the like and exclusive of turnover tax, and is to be allocated to the appropriate time period. Products supplied and/or services rendered during the “corona period” for which no invoices have yet been raised are to be classified as work in progress, whereas COVID-related subsidies such as those made available under the TOGS (reimbursement for SMEs in affected sectors) and TVL (fixed cost reimbursement) schemes are to be accounted for as sales.
Responsibility for the accuracy of accounting invariably rests with the entrepreneur him or herself. This should not leave any leeway for manipulating sales levels by advancing or deferring part of the sales to a different time period in order to secure an inflated reimbursement.
Final application for the NOW‑1 scheme by businesses already having applied for an advance payment opens on 07 October 2020. Applications will be subject to expert vetting by an accountancy or administrative firm, a financial service supplier or a trade association for businesses already having collected an advance payment of 20,000 euros or more or definitive reimbursement of 25,000 euros or more, or to being reviewed by a (chartered) accountant for businesses already having collected an advance payment of 100,000 euros or more or a definitive reimbursement of 125,000 euros or more. Any group of companies that proceeds with an application for the NOW scheme for one of its group entities will be under the obligation to submit an auditor’s opinion. Minor applicants (for amounts of less than 25,000 euros each) may dispense with an auditor’s opinion. Given the overwhelming importance of proper documentation – after all there is always a chance that the authorities might subject your application and the resultant subsidy to a post-clearance check – we would recommend that you have your financial consultant perform a pre-submission check of your final application.
The expert opinion by which the application is to be accompanied should address the entrepreneur’s (COVID-induced) sales decline. We would stress that entitlement to reimbursement is contingent upon an expert opinion being produced and that the lack of such an opinion – which the expert will in any event decline to issue where the accuracy of accounting cannot be vouched for – will inevitably prompt the advance having to be restored.
The term for submitting final applications has been fixed at 24 weeks of 07 October 2020 (the latter being the opening date). An extended term of 38 weeks applies for applications that are required to be accompanied by an auditor’s opinion.
In the event that the application is subsequently shown to have contained inaccuracies, this will inevitably result in the reimbursement being recovered by the authorities, quite possibly augmented by penalties and (default) interest.
Dutch version: Uw NOW-aanvraag afronden