Author - AABC

Member Spotlight: Kristien van Elteren

Each month we'll feature a different AABC member in our new Member Spotlight, this month Kristien van Elteren. Would you like to be featured in a future edition of our Member Spotlight? Get in touch with Veronica at marketing@aabc.nl

1. Who are you? (introduce yourself)

I was born in the south of the Netherlands and have lived in different continents e.g the Caribbean and United states, where I started my first company international art trading. For years I have done many artshows: Art Expo New York, Las Vegas Art Expo and Art Zurich. Meanwhile, I have my Master degree in Economics and Business Innovation, partly in South-Africa. One day one of my customers approached me and said: “I want to sell my marina”. She thought I was the right person to extend this beautiful place to a next level. As a young businesswoman, I seized this opportunity. I sold my art company and took over the marina, just outside Amsterdam. This was a whole new adventure and help me mature as an entrepreneur.

2. When and why did you join the AABC?

When I moved to Amsterdam from St. Maarten (Caribbean), I really felt like a world traveller / expat and wanted to explore the city and meet inspiring people. The ambitious culture of the American people gave me energy, so I was looking for an American club. Through the events I meet inspiring, goal-oriented and ambitious people while I discover Amsterdam in a playful way. This is what I found in the AABC. Furthermore, the club gives me also the opportunity to promote the Serviced Apartments which are located at the marina.

3. Tell us about your business and how we can work with you.

The marina is all about the experience at the Waterfront. Since I studied business innovation I have taken this into practice, changed the businessmodel into a modern private marina. Services such as boatrepair, transport, catering are available and offered in collobaration with third parties. Our concept is to create a combination of boating and art, with a yearly changing statue garden with life size sculptures. In recent years we have had life-size art horses and birds and the coming summer season it is called: “Sitting at the Helm.” We also have a specific type of couch that is painted by various wellknown artists. To innovate further, several apartments are developed and build with a focus on expats. The apartments are beautifully decorated with Art & Design objects which can be also bought. The apartments are step inn ready and have the necessary services and comfort for expats / business travellers from weekly cleaning, laundry service to a first class meal service. The building is still in progress so… to be continued. An unique point is the location, that is 10 minutes from Amsterdam Rai, directly located at the exit Vinkeveen (highway A2) and next to the N201. The bus stop is infront of the street (less then 1 minute walking) and there are enough free parking spaces. It is only 20 minutes from Amsterdam Airport (Schiphol) and on arrival you instantly relax and enjoy the tranquillity of nature right at the Waterfront. Curious to find out more? shortstayhouses.com jachthavenvinkeveen.nl

4. What are your tips and/or advice about doing business in the Netherlands?

In the Netherlands, we believe that we must focus on values such as honesty, respect and personal responsibility. Do not try to force a decision, the idea of consensus is enormous in the Netherlands. Get straight down to business, the Dutch prefer to get straight down to things. My personal inspiration for growth is: “If people aren't calling you crazy, you aren't thinking big enough (Richard Branson). You must think big, if you want to grow’. Share this article:

Which Visa Do You Need to Work in the United States?

Many dream of moving to the United States. Some want to be closer to family and loved-ones, while others need to go for work or wish to buy or start a business. While relocating to the United States can be exciting, it can also be an overwhelming experience. One of the first administrative obstacles you will face when going to the United States for work will be immigration. Unless you are a US citizen moving back to your home country, you will most likely need a visa. You will need to wade through the alphabet soup which is the US immigration system to determine which visa is right for your situation. Here is a brief description of some circumstances you may be in and the visas you may be eligible for.

Working in the United States for a US employer

Those wishing to move to the United States to work in ‘specialty occupations’ may be able to apply for a H-1B visa. Specialty occupations are jobs that require theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and at least the attainment of a bachelor’s degree or equivalent to properly carry out the role. Further, someone wishing to use a H-1B visa must be paid at least the prevailing wage for the job position in the geographical location in which the person will work. A major downside of the H-1B is that there is an annual limit on the number of visas issued. There are only 65,000 visas available per fiscal year. The first 20,000 petitions filed on behalf of those with a US master’s degree or higher are exempt from this limit, as are those who work or wish to work at an institute of higher education or a non-profit research organization. Last year, there were almost a quarter of a million applications submitted before the government agency dealing with them stopped accepting new applications. Those on a H-1B may enter the United States for up to three years. The H-1B may usually only be extended up to a total of six years.

Transferring to the United States from the Netherlands

The L-1 visas allow people who have been working for a company outside of the United States for more than one year in the past three years to be transferred to an affiliated company in the United States. The transferee must be going to the United States to work in either an executive or managerial capacity (these may apply for an L-1A visa) or they must possess specialized knowledge related to their work or organization (these may apply for an L-1B visa). Those transferred on an L-1 visa may stay in the United States for an initial period of three years. At the end of this period, the visa may be renewed in increments of two years for a total of seven years for the L-1A and five years for the L-1B. What happens if the company you work for abroad has no affiliate in the United States? Both the L-1A and L-1B allow for the transfer of executive or managerial and specialized knowledge employees respectively to be transferred to help establish a new office in the United States. New Office L visas have the same total time limits as mentioned above but the initial visa is only valid for one year.

Starting a new business or investing in an existing business in the United States

The Netherlands has a treaty with the United States which allows for its citizens to move to the United States to start a business (using an E-1 visa) or to invest a substantial sum in a US business (using an E-2 visa). Dutch citizens starting a business in the United States using an E-1 visa must also ensure that the business will carry on substantial trade between the United States and the Netherlands. This means that the business should conduct more than 50% of its trade with the Netherlands. This trade can be in anything: goods, services, insurance etc, the meaning of the word ‘trade’ is construed quite liberally in this context. However, the trade must be substantial, meaning there must be a continuous flow of sizeable international trade consisting of many transactions over time. A very simple example could be starting a business in the United States which imports Dutch cheese for sale in the United States. Those applying for an E-1 visa must be an employee of the business. Dutch citizens investing in a business in the United States using an E-2 visa must have invested or be in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital in a business in the United States. When applying for the E-2 visa, the Dutch citizen must be seeking to enter the United States solely to develop and direct the investment enterprise, either through their managerial or executive role or because they are specially qualified to do so. This can be proved by showing that the applicant has at least 50% ownership of the business or that they have operational control of it. Further, the investment must have the present or future capacity to generate more than enough income to provide for the applicant and their family. Those applying for an E-1 or E-2 visa may stay in the United States for two years but can potentially renew their visa as many times as they like if they still qualify.

What about family members?

All the visas mentioned in this article allow the main applicant to bring their spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 to the United States. This is not automatic and separate applications have to be made for each person wishing to accompany the main applicant. Spouses may apply for work authorization which, if approved, have no restriction on where the spouse may work.

Other US work visas

The visa options mentioned above are the options most often used for Dutch citizens to work in the United States. But what if you are not a Dutch citizen? The United States has treaties with many countries and the E-1 and E-2 may be available to you if you are a national of another country. What if these visas don’t seem like the right fit for the type of work you intend to do in the United States?  There are also several other visas not mentioned here which you may be eligible for, depending on your circumstances. While you are not required to use an attorney for your US immigration issues, it may be wise to consult one to find out the extent of your options as well as what option is the best fit for you. DISCLAIMER: The information in this article is provided for general informational purposes and is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. George Lake is the founder and Managing Attorney at Blue Lake Law LLP, a US Immigration law firm based in Amsterdam. He has experience assisting those who want to move from Europe to the United States. George specialises in US immigration law and focuses particularly on business and corporate immigration. Author: George W. Lake, Managing Attorney at Blue Lake Law LLP Share this article:

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

On December 22, 2017, President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act cutting corporate tax rates from 35% to 21% and dropping the top individual rate from 39.6% to 37%. This is the first tax overhaul in more than 30 years, which went into effect January 1, 2018. The overhaul cuts income tax rates, doubles the standard deduction, and eliminates personal exemptions. Corporate cuts are permanent, yet the individual changes expire at the end of 2025. Expats and dual citizens have been fighting for years for reform the burdensome policies affecting Americans overseas, and sadly, those reforms will not be brought about by this bill. Many of the reporting requirements most affecting Americans overseas – like the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion and the Foreign Tax Credit and FATCA – remain untouched. Many expat business owners will see tax increases and complicating factors in 2018.

What’s in This Tax Overhaul?

Following is a summary of the major changes we can expect on the individual level. This is not intended to be a full list, but highlights the areas of the tax code that impacts most taxpayers. Specific details, phase-outs, thresholds, rules, etc. are still being worked on, so stay informed. MOST CHANGES ARE EFFECTIVE IN 2018 AND DO NOT IMPACT YOUR 2017 TAX RETURN Changes affecting expats specifically: 1) Taxpayers living abroad will continue to receive the automatic 2-month extension to file and pay taxes. 2017 tax returns, associated forms, and FBARs are due June 15th, 2018. 3) Deductions for real estate taxes on real foreign properties are eliminated. 4) Expats are not subject to the reduced taxation of “passthrough” entities. Passthrough entity profits will be taxed on the individual level for expat business owners. 5) Net Investment Tax (NIT) cannot be reduced by Foreign Tax Credits (unchanged from previous years). 6) Moving expenses are no longer deductible. 7) Inflation calculation has changed, which means the FEIE will grow at a slower rate, increasing only fractionally each year. 8) Corporate taxes have changed significantly. Expats who are owners of Controlled Foreign Corporations (CFC), will be subject to a one-time “deemed repatriation” tax of 15.5% on any previously untaxed profits, 8% for illiquid assets. Taxpayers may have the option to pay this tax over eight years. If you are a shareholder of a B.V. here in The Netherlands, this affects you. Any undistributed profits will be considered to have been brought back to the U.S., and the repatriation tax will apply. 9) Additional forms required to be filed by many expats remain unchanged. These include The Foreign Bank Account Report (also known as FinCEN 114), the FATCA requirements, Form 8938 (Statement of Foreign Financial Assets), Form 5471 (Report of Certain Foreign Corporations), and Form 3520 (Report of Foreign Trusts, including pensions), and more depending on your situation. 10) As one last kick-to-the-gut, tax preparation fees, which can often be exacerbating for expats, will no longer be deductible.

For All Individual Filers:

1) Lower individual rates – our previous rates were 10%, 15% 25%, 28%, 33%, 35% and 39.6%. New rates, including how much income would apply to them: • 10% (income up to $9,525 for individuals; up to $19,050 for married filing jointly - MFJ) • 12% (over $9,525 to $38,700; over $19,050 to $77,400 for MFJ) • 22% (over $38,700 to $82,500; over $77,400 to $165,000 for MFJ) • 32% (over $157,500 to $200,000; over $315,000 to $400,000 for MFJ) • 35% (over $200,000 to $500,000; over $400,000 to $600,000 for MFJ) • 37% (over $500,000; over $600,000 for MFJ) 2) Standard Deduction has nearly doubled greatly reducing the number of taxpayers who will choose to itemize. The bill increases for single filers to $12,000, up from $6,350. For married filing jointly, the new standard deduction increases to $24,000, up from $12,700. 3) No more Personal Exemptions. Previously, you received $4,050 for yourself, your spouse and each dependent. The tax bill eliminates this exemption. 4) State and local tax deduction (SALT). Under the old law, there was no limitation for the itemized deduction of your state and local property taxes along with income or sales taxes. The new law states that the SALT taxes remain as an itemized deduction but caps them at $10,000. Those taxpayers living in states with high income and property taxes will be unlikely to deduct all their SALT taxes. If you rushed to pay property taxes before year-end, the taxes must have been already assessed in order to claim the deduction in 2017. 5) Mortgage interest deduction. If you take out a new mortgage on a first or second home, you will only be allowed to deduct the interest on debt up to $750,000. The bill will no longer allow for a deduction on home equity loans. Previously, the limit was mortgages up to $1,000,000 plus up to $100,000 on home equity loans. This may mean digging up old paperwork to determine the piece of existing loans that is deductible, and working out complicated basis calculations. 6) Alternative Minimum Tax (Alt Min). While we were all hoping that Alt Min would be eliminated, it was only eliminated for corporations. The income exemption levels are being raised to $70,300 for singles (previously $54,300) and $109,400 for married couples (previously $84,500). With the increased levels, the number of filers hit should be reduced. 7) Child tax credit increased. Under the new law, the credit will be doubled to $2,000 for children under 17. High income earners will now be eligible as the income threshold would be raised from $75,000 single to $200,000 and for married couples $110,000 will increase to $400,000. The first $1,000 will continue to be refundable along with $400 of the additional $1,000. This means if you have no tax liability, you may be eligible to receive a refund of up to $1,400 per child. This credit is available to taxpayers living abroad. 8) New credit for non-child dependents. The law allows parents a $500 credit for each non-child dependent they are supporting. This includes a child 17 or older, an elderly parent or an adult child with a disability. 9) Mandate to buy health insurance. While the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as “Obamacare” has not been repealed, there will no longer be a penalty for not buying insurance. Note: The IRS is ENFORCING the penalty for 2017. This repeal does not affect last year. Many taxpayers abroad qualify for an exemption from this requirement.

For Business Filers:

This subject is beyond the scope of this article, but a couple things should be pointed out: 1) The corporate tax rate has been slashed from 35% to 21%. 2) For owners, partners, and shareholders of U.S. based S-corporations, LLCs and partnerships, the tax burden would be lowered by a 20% deduction. There are some exclusions and complicated calculations which may apply. Taxpayers living abroad always have complicating factors in their tax situation. This year promises to be extra complicated. Be sure to seek the advice of a trusted tax expert well in advance of the tax deadline to help navigate the waters of expat tax issues and this year’s tax reform. Author: Christie DuChateau, BNC Tax & Accounting. Share this article:

How Joy Can Bring Better Results in 2018

Do you want to see better results in 2018? Money, impact, influence?

Do you want to find more joy in 2018?

Do you want both?

If you are like the people who attended the Amsterdam American Business Club (AABC) December event, you will answer with a definite YES. We all want this, and we have wanted it every single year. However, there are huge barriers within us that have stopped us from achieving these things and continue to do so, including…
  • Our beliefs: We think, “we cannot have our cake and eat it, too.” Is this true, or is this just one of many self-defeating popular beliefs?
  • Our fears: We set objectives and work on projects that don’t make our heart sing. In other words we walk over our own desires.
  • Our habits: We want to lose weight, but keep choosing the cake instead of the carrot.
These three barriers are linked to the three centers of intelligence in our body: our brain, our heart, and our gut. Yes, scientists have discovered we have more than one “brain.” Our heart and our gut are also valuable sources of wisdom. Our brain is the source of creativity. It generates wonderful ideas. No wonder we have, for centuries, centered our world around it. However as creative at it is, it also creates unreal realities. It generates thoughts that sabotage our intent. Sadly some of these thoughts become chronic thoughts, a.k.a. beliefs. Once they reach this stage, they are very powerful and stop your endeavors. Our heart and our gut haven’t received much attention over the centuries. We have actually learned to suppress our compassion and our courage. Current social changes, however, are bringing these two qualities to light. We are starting to realize how important it is to work on purpose. When we are truly committed to doing what we love, we engage our heart’s intelliguence. Thus we create solutions that are truly meaningful to many, most importantly you. Plus when you listen to your heart, everything becomes easier. It allows you to find the most graceful route toward meaningful impact. The one that has the least attention is the gut. No wonder there are so many people with creative and compassionate business plans, movie scripts, or book drafts that never see the light of day. What we need is the power of the gut: courage.

To get all you want out of 2018, you need to activate the powers of your three brains. You need to illicit:

  • A better MindSet: Activate your creativity. Invent new and empowering beliefs.
  • A better HeartSet: Activate your compassion. Smother all your fears by allowing the wisdom of your heart to be your guide.
  • A better HandSet. Activate your courage. Build daily habits that gradually expand your comfort zone and your self-reliance.
I have created courses and books full of techniques outlining how to activate these three sets. For the purpose of this article, I’ll give you one technique that will allow you to engage your three intelligences at once. This tool will help you make difficult decisions fast. Once you are proficient at using it, your productivity will soar. The best is that your joy and sense of calm will too. When you are confronted with a difficult choice (going to a networking event when tired, accepting funding for your venture from a person you don’t trust, developing a software/app further after knowing there is already competition in the market, etc.) ask yourself:

What is the most creative, compassionate, and courageous thing to do?

Notice this question is forcing you to use the three qualities at the same time. It is forcing you to align the power of your whole being in the choice you will make. It is asking you to come up with innovative options that make your heart sing, allow you to care for humanity, and are still daring adventures. Once you have an option on the table, butterflies will flutter in your tummy. It’s unavoidable! Then ask yourself: is there another alternative? Brainstorm. Ask your heart. Feel the fear. When they are finally aligned, take action, no matter how small. Success loves speed. You must tell your brain, your heart, and your gut that you mean it. This way you will build brand new neuro-pathways of resilience and self-belief. With this article, I also want to wish you a Merry Everything and a Happy Always. Plus I have a special gift for all of the AABC community. I decided to give you 30 percent discount off all my books and online courses. I expand on techniques to transform your fears into fuel. To claim your gift, go to http://www.blancavergara.com/for-you-2/ and use the code aabc2017. Share this article:

How to Deal with Stress?

Feeling and functioning better under stress, starts with understanding stress. What stress is, how to recognize it and the secret of how to deal with it. But let me start with; why stress coaching? The reason is that besides being a trained coach, I am an experience expert. Twenty years in corporate sales thought me what stress is. A burnout about 7 years ago, thought me how not to deal with it. The good news is, that I came through it, now know how to deal with it, and am able to help others with this knowledge. I do that by means of presentations, workshops and of course life coaching.

What is stress?

Stress is a mental and physical response to an event, that comes in three forms:
  • Incidental stress
  • Overspannenheid (No English word for this, sorry)
  • Burnout
Incidental stress Stress that occurs now and then, followed by periods of recuperation and rest, is called incidental stress. Your body, mind and energy levels can deal with this fairly good without too much strain.   Overspannenheid Overspannenheid is a continuous period of chronical stress. It leads up to a feeling of not being able to rest anymore and of not being able to function. Overspannenheid also leads to mental and physical complaints. Your battery is almost, but not completely empty. And that is the good news, you still have energy to make a change and recover, worse can be prevented. Burnout Burnout is the result of completely ignoring the symptoms of overspannenheid. It will lead to a complete and utter exhaustion, both mental and physical. You will wake up, not knowing how to get out of bed or how to get through your day. Your battery is completely empty, and you need to recharge first, before you can recover.  

It all sounds serious, but how big is the problem?

There are a lot of studies being done into this subject, The numbers differ, but the message is generally the same. All studies state that a large part of the workforce in the Netherlands is suffering from stress and stress related issues. Concerning burnout the numbers a bit more clear, because these people don’t show up for work, so they get easier noticed. In certain age groups the number goes as high as 17% of the workforce suffering of burnout related issues. Those are serious numbers.

If the difference between recovering from overspannenheid and ending up with a burnout, is listening to the symptoms, how do you recognize them?

If your mind is ignoring the facts, learn to listen to your body. Your body will always show when there is stress. Indicators of that are for instance a higher breathing, tension in your body or sweating. Of course, by themselves, these can just as well mean that you are falling in love, and therefore no reason to be alarmed, but when combined for instance with a deep and utter feeling of mental and physical fatigue, highly irritable behaviour or sleep disorders, to name just a few of the easy noticeable ones, they can and should be reason for alarm. I call these mental and physical signals the “early warning system” and as a coach I teach people how to listen to them. In fact this “early warning system” is the strongest tool you have to prevent stress to turn from bad to worse.

How do you prevent or deal with stress?

Stress is an imbalance between (work)stress-load and your (perceived) ability to deal with it. So the secret lays in working on these two parts of the equation by:
  • Either reduce the pressure or increase your stress resilience!
  As promised, I have practical tips in line with this that will help you deal with work related stress. 1. Do not try to do everything yourself Being an entrepreneur, you are eager to do it all yourself. Don’t! Ask yourself what is your business, and how you best add value to that. Focus on what gives you energy and leave the rest to external experts. This will not only free up time for things that will give you energy, but most likely your business will improve too. 2. Make sure your goals are realistic Many starting entrepreneurs write unrealistic business plans with sky high goals. Unrealistic goals are a sure source of stress and failing businesses. So plan realistic. But keep in mind, planning your daily activities should be realistically too. 3. Take good care of yourself Eat healthy! Research has shown that there is a clear connection between eating and stress. Exercise! This has to do with the build-up of the so called stress hormones, like adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol in your body, which can be lowered by exercise. Commit to charging as you do to working! Take breaks, real breaks! Without emails or social media. And that goes twice for vacations. 4. ASK! A lot of work related stress has its origin in uncertainty. “What does this colleague really means to say? Does my manager think that I am not doing a good job? How should I do a better job at this? What does he/she think of me? Is that client satisfied?” The only way to know what is really happening, is to ask! So prevent unnecessary stress, ASK! 5. If all else fails Well, then it is time for professional help. Don’t keep struggling, find help to deal with it.

To Conclude

Be honest with yourself. Listen to your body, learn to read the signs. If you find that difficult, there are all kinds of books and otherwise this coach, that can help you to connect what is below your neck to what’s above. I am Rob Lacroix and stress coach at ExpatCoachingCompany.nl, and I can help you feel and function better under stress. Want to get in touch? Email me at rob.lacroix@expatcoachingcompany.nl or look me up on LinkedIn. Share this article: