Don’t get daunted by the tax return; it looks more complicated than it really is.

How difficult is it really?

For most, filing a tax return should not be that difficult. It is just a question of copying the numbers from one piece of paper onto another one.

The first time, things may be quite straightforward because you only have your salary to declare. There should be only about ten codes to complete. What is more, the taxman already has most of the information that you will be reporting. If you file online, you will see that the information is pre-completed.

Filing a tax return takes more time and concentration when you get married, take out a mortgage or pay your household help with titres services / dienstencheques, if you have made tax deductible donations, have put money aside in a pension saving account …

Filing your tax return can take between three and five hours Once you are used to it you can get the job done in about one to two hours (the taxman calculate that it only takes half an hour).

Make no mistake: that brown envelope releases the inner procrastinator in you and on the last day you will be chasing these little bits of paper.

Can I get help?

This is a short guide to filing your tax return.

If you need professional help, you can work with an accountant or a tax adviser. Not only do they have experience, they can also buy you time; they can file your tax return online until 25 October.

You should know that the tax authorities are also available to help. You can meet them in their office (the address is on your tax return) and they will complete your tax return online. They also set up shop on specific days in  town halls or in shopping centres.

Be sure to take your tax return, your electric identity card, your papers, pay slips, certificates for tax deductions (mortgages, life insurance, pension saving, donations, child care, maintenance pay, titres services, etc…, your tax bill for last year, and the tax bill for the real estate tax (“précompte immobilier”). There is a checklist on p. 11.

The tax man certainly has a lot of experience, but he cannot give you more time; your tax return must still be filed before 29 June (on paper) or 12 July (online).

There is no shame in asking; about 1 million Belgians go and see the taxman.


Your Tax Return :

Author: Marc Quaghebeur

Marc Quaghebeur is a Belgian tax lawyer with Cabinet DAVID specialising in international tax issues and cross border estate planning. He is a member of the Brussels Bar and the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners. He

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