Married, unmarried cohabitants, (multiple) parents and (step) children in tax law in the Netherlands and Europe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Society has changed considerably over the past fifty years. Whereas before, most people got married, had several children during the marriage and divorce was still relatively rare, currently, there is much more diversity with different forms of cohabitation. Although this trend is present throughout Europe, there is a large difference in the pace and manner in which the new patterns of society are manifesting themselves there. This article indicates that the same applies to the fiscal recognition of unmarried cohabitants and stepchildren from a married couple and an unmarried couple (‘informal’ stepchildren).

In the Netherlands, married and unmarried couples are now treated entirely the same for income, gift, and inheritance tax purposes. This also applies to formal and informal stepchildren. In a European context, the Netherlands is therefore leading the way in recognizing nontraditional cohabitation variants in tax legislation. With this article, the author not only discusses the tax treatment in various European countries but also the possible arguments for (not) equating them.

The author hopes to contribute to the discussion of whether extra-marital cohabitation and other related relationships should be treated in the same way for tax purposes as relationships that arise through marriage.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)408-423
Number of pages16
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2021


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