As per 1 January 2018 startups will be able to grant options to employees with (unfortunately severely limited) tax benefits.

As per 1 January 2018 a new tax regime will most likely apply to startups that have been granted an R&D Declaration (S&O Verklaring). Options awarded by said startups will be taxed (in box 1) upon exercise or sale of the options, but only on 75% of the received amount. The remaining 25% is exempted from taxation. However, this facility only applies if the amount received pursuant to the exercise or sale is no more than € 50,000 (so a maximum exempted amount of € 12,500). If a higher amount is received the entire amount is taxed. Finally, the facility only applies to options which have been exercised following 12 months and within 5 years of having been granted. Hence, in the event of an exit after 6 years or in the event of a successful exit this facility does not apply, making for a facility that will expectedly be of fairly limited relevance.