A conversation with Femke van de Water and Celine Steinkamp from KPMG Meijburg & Co!

Hi Femke and Celine. FEM- START is happy to be speaking with you today. Tell us, what made you want to work for KPMG Tax and why the world of corporate taxes?

Celine: Femke and I both went on the KPMG Meijburg (KPMG Tax and Legal team) business course aimed for students to get to know the company and for the former to recruit them. It’s a 6-day trip and it’s a mix of fun activities and tax knowledge workshops. Femke and I ended up receiving an internship offer and we never left! I had previous internship experience but the KPMG Meijburg office in Rotterdam is very special. It is a small office and no matter which team you are a part of; we all know each other which is rather rare for a big four company. This makes that the office feels more like a family!

Femke: Yes, it does! It’s nice that all the different disciplines and specialisations (VAT, corporate taxes, people services, customs, etc…) are mixed and we can walk to any colleague and give a thorough and combined answer to clients. It’s unique to be able to ask your colleagues for assistance and get it before you reconvene with clients. It makes it enjoyable to do my job. In 2014, I started as an Economics student in Rotterdam but ultimately, switched to the tax economics (focus on corporate tax) after I tried out a few tax courses. What I like about working as a tax consultant at KPMG Meijburg is that it gives me the opportunity to talk to passionate entrepreneurs and that I can help them with something they generally dread. Taxes are very personal to each entrepreneur and it gives me confidence they trust me with this sensitive information. You have a special bond with your clients in this sector.

Why is it important for female entrepreneurs to know about corporate taxes? 

 Celine: It’s vital! Once you are registered in the Chamber of Commerce, corporate taxes kick in immediately. Entrepreneurs are busy building and growing their businesses as a result of which they can lose sight of their priorities. Cash is your most valuable asset when you start as an entrepreneur, you want to use it to expand your company. You want to avoid paying fines when you fail to file corporate taxes in time or file incorrectly. Having a good relationship with tax authorities can also be helpful, entrepreneurs are so focused on their business, they tend to forget about tax filing which is understandable. However, when your profits get bigger, so do your obligations with the tax authorities. Start early!  It is easier to do it right from the start then to try to fix things afterwards.

Femke: Agreed, it saves you a lot of time if you make sure you are already compliant early on. Besides obligations, there are also a lot of opportunities with respect to  corporate taxes. You can for example make use of incentives that saves you money, which you can then  re-invest in the company later on. Therefore it’s helpful to have a good understanding of the options available, to make sure that you are not missing out.

At what stage of setting up their business should entrepreneurs start contacting a corporate tax advisor? And why do they need a corporate tax advisor?

 Femke: The corporate tax world is a complex environment constantly subject to change. New rules are introduced every year. It’s helpful to have an advisor who can make sure that you are compliant. An advisor can for example  inform you about benefits that are available and to make sure that you have a good basis to scale. I would advise to contact an advisor as soon as possible after you have started your business or set up your company; even if it’s only for a short sparring session about the basic obligations and common structures Once you expand your business abroad, input from a tax advisor is essential. It’s never too early for entrepreneurs to reach out. It’s important to reach out to have that open conversation and then we can give advice on what needs to be done!

 Celine: We also have conversations with entrepreneurs who have quite a solid foundation. These conversations are also really helpful because it gives the entrepreneurs reassurance in relation to their tax obligations. Another reason why it could be helpful to contact an advisor is that there are many rules and exemptions which cannot be easily found on the internet. Taxes are a specific matter, it is never black or white and depends on the relevant facts and circumstances

What do you think are the most essential steps an entrepreneur should take when filing their corporate taxes? 

 Celine: The most important thing to do is to file your corporate income tax return on time and to make sure you keep your records and numbers ready! Corporate income tax returns are being prepared based on the financial figures of the company  therefore it is important  to make sure that all documents are well archived. The more documents and records, the better trail you have to defend your position in case the tax authorities start asking questions.

 Femke: Paper trailing is very important; you want to demonstrate and show you documented everything and calculated your taxes correctly. It is hard to demonstrate your good faith vocally. If there is no concrete paper- trail, it will be hard to make your case.  

What is a common mistake you see with your clients or with entrepreneurs in general? And what can they do to solve it?           

 Femke: Our clients are mostly entrepreneurs. We often run into the issue that what they perceive their business to be in the market may be different than it is for tax purposes. This is especially relevant in relation to VAT. It is helpful to know exactly what your service and products are classified as. It happens that some entrepreneurs think a different rule applies based on their perception of their business or what they sell. For example, selling goods via a platform or operating a platform, may result in different obligations..

 Celine: The most common mistake is to think rules and obligations do not apply to you because you just started your business. The tax authorities do not pay attention if it’s a large or small company. It’s normal to be focused on your business and be distracted. Most of the time they are not aware of the obligations they have to fulfill but doing research, consulting with an advisor and process information before you start is very important!

What do you enjoy the most about working in this sector?

Femke: Working with so many different people and be amazed by what they do and share their passions with us is what I enjoy about my job the most. It’s always dynamic and it’s never repetitive.

 Celine: It never gets boring or monotonous. It’s always different, even if I get the same questions; the conclusion is always different as it varies per company and entrepreneur. When you are searching for a client and reach a conclusion, it always feels like it’s a win. It’s always entertaining and all clients have such diverse backgrounds.

What are you looking forward to in the New Year? Any exciting projects you are working on?  

 Celine: We are a part of the ‘Emerging Giants’ Team who focuses on startups and scaleups. Big events in 2024 are planned for the anniversary as well. The collaboration with FEM-START was a perfect fit for us and we are looking forward to our events and collaboration with FEM-START in the new year! 

 Femke: We aim to help as many startups and scaleups as possible by assisting them to grow and expand their horizons. We want to translate that mission to FEM-START as well. We look forward to contributing to the goal of narrowing the funding gap for female entrepreneurs!

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