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2019 Tax Return : if this is your first time …

If you are new to Belgium, or if this is the first time you have to file a tax return, these are a few of the things you need to know.

The first time you receive a tax return, it comes in the form of a brown envelope with a tax return and a form to prepare the tax return guide (see p. 10).

You can file a paper tax return or online. Four out of five taxpayers file online, and the number of people who prefer to file paper tax returns is dwindling. Please note that once you file online, the tax authorities assume that you will want to do so again and they will not send you a paper form anymore.

In Belgium married couples and registered partners file jointly but they are taxed separately on the same tax bill (see p. 3).

In your tax return, you declare your income. You don’t report your wealth. If you have overseas bank accounts or insurance policies, all you do is tick a box. You don’t have to give any information about those (see p. 24) but that does not mean that the taxman doesn’t have any information at all (see p. 31).

You don’t have to calculate the tax yourself and you don’t have to pay the tax immediately or enclose a cheque.  This is because most tax is deducted at source; your employer pays your salary net social security and income tax. And if you receive a pension, tax is already deducted as well.

The tax withheld at source will normally cover the tax. However, you still have to declare all your income, and the tax bill will show whether you get any tax back. That may be the case if

And if you have any savings, the bank deducts the tax “at source”; you don’t have to declare the dividends or interest. However, if you have savings with an overseas bank abroad, you must report the income.

If you file in time, the tax bill will be sent to you a few months later, at the latest on 30 June 2020. You have two months to pay the bill; if the bill shows a reimbursement, that will come two months later as well.

If you want to calculate how much tax you will have to pay, you can calculate the tax anonymously on Taxcalc.

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

Comments 7

  1. Hi team!

    I moved to Belgium in October 2018 and started to work in November 2018. My registration process was long (Brussels 1000) and I only got my e-card a couple of weeks ago.
    Until now I still didn’t receive any the taxes information at my address. The deadline do fill the tax return is almost there and I don’t know what am I suppose to do. Can you help me to understand what are the services I must contact?

    Thank you!
    Joana

    1. Post
      Author

      Dear Ms Silva,

      The reason why you did not receive a tax return is that you were not registered with the commune yet on 1 January.
      The Belgian tax authorities receive the list of Belgian residents on 1 January and send their tax returns to the people on that list.
      If you have not received a tax return, I would suggest that you call the contact centre at 02 572 57 57.
      They will be able to tell you which is your tax office …

      Best regards,

      Marc Quaghebeur

  2. Dear Marc,

    I am an Indian citizen and my wife lived with me in Belgium till 2016. But, she moved to Germany 3 years back for work, and still works there. Till last year her name was there in my tax statements, but now my tax statement indicates me as “feitelijk gescheiden”. As non-EU citizens, we cannot get dual residenceships, so she is now resident only in Germany (which is required for working in Germany) and I am resident only in Belgium (same required here). I wonder is that is the correct category in the tax statement for this situation or some other category should apply in this case?
    Please let me know if you know. Many thanks!

    Best regards,
    Ashish Kumar

    1. Post
      Author

      Dear Mr Kumar,

      When you lived with your wife in Belgium, you were taxed as a married couple.

      You write that your wife moved to Germany three years ago to work and that she still works there. I assume that you are still a couple and that you meet up regularly in Belgium and/or in Germany.

      From what I read, I understand that as a non-EU citizen, she had to get a German work permit to work in Germany and that that came with a residence permit. Therefore, she is now living and working in Germany and she is only liable to income tax in Germany.

      I am not sure that she had to give up her Belgian residence (which was based either on a Belgian work permit or on being married to you) just to go and work in Germany. She has the right to live in Belgium because she is married to you and she could have kept her Belgian residence. If she has a work permit to work in Germany, she could actually work in Germany and be a non-resident there (and a resident in Belgium). That would not have made much difference for her: she would have to pay full German income tax in Germany as she is working there, and be assimilated to a German resident. If she were still a Belgian resident, she would have had to file an income tax return in Belgium but she would not pay tax here as she has no taxable income in Belgium.

      I assume that she handed in her Belgian id card in 2018 (or that it expired in 2018). In any event, until 1 January 2018, her name was in the population registers and therefore, she received joint tax return with you.

      Since she “left”, you are living alone and although you are married, you are de facto separated (“feitelijk gescheiden”). That does indeed appear to be the correct way of declaring your income on your tax return.

      Best regards,

      Marc Quaghebeur

  3. You understood the situation correctly and the explanation is very clear. Thanks very much! It was very helpful to me.
    As I understand, although we cannot do anything about it now, she should have kept the Belgian residence permit to let us bridge the taxes. Without that now I must pay tax in Belgium as a separated, despite the extra costs due to the double household in different countries.

    1. Post
      Author

      Dear Mr Kumar,

      Thank you for this reply.
      Whether you are taxed as married or separated will not make any difference. The tax is calculated on your income alone. There are no real advantages – tax wise – in being married (or in a registered partnership), unless your spouse (or partner) has no income. In that case, part of your income is taxed in your spouse’s name as if she had earned it. However, your wife is earning an income in Germany.
      The only tax saving I could anticipate is that if your spouse is resident in Belgium and working in Germany, she could deduct certain costs related to a double household, see e.g. : https://lifeinduesseldorf.com/deductible-work-expenses/
      In Belgium, you personally do not have any extra costs resulting from a double household.
      Your wife would have to declare her gross remuneration minus her(allowed) costs of a double household (and pay less tax in Germany). In Belgium she would have to declare the gross income minus her (allowed) costs of a double household minus … the German tax, and as explained before, that German income would not be taxed but would have an impact on the Belgian tax on any other income (if any) that is taxable in Belgium.
      I trust that this answers all your questions and that you will not hesitate to contact me should you have any further questions.
      Best regards,
      Marc Quaghebeur

  4. Post
    Author

    Dear Mr Kumar,

    Thank you for this reply.
    Whether you are taxed as married or separated will not make any difference. The tax is calculated on your income alone. There are no real advantages – tax wise – in being married (or in a registered partnership), unless your spouse (or partner) has no income. In that case, part of your income is taxed in your spouse’s name as if she had earned it. However, your wife is earning an income in Germany.
    The only tax saving I could anticipate is that if your spouse is resident in Belgium and working in Germany, she could deduct certain costs related to a double household, see e.g. : https://lifeinduesseldorf.com/deductible-work-expenses/
    In Belgium, you personally do not have any extra costs resulting from a double household.
    Your wife would have to declare her gross remuneration minus her(allowed) costs of a double household (and pay less tax in Germany). In Belgium she would have to declare the gross income minus her (allowed) costs of a double household minus … the German tax, and as explained before, that German income would not be taxed but would have an impact on the Belgian tax on any other income (if any) that is taxable in Belgium.
    I trust that this answers all your questions and that you will not hesitate to contact me should you have any further questions.
    Best regards,
    Marc Quaghebeur

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