European Commission refers Belgian to European Court of Justice

On 18 June 2015 the European Commission announced that it is referring Belgium to the Court of Justice of the European Union because it taxes Belgian residents differently on property abroad and at home. If a Belgian resident earns income from property located abroad, that is taxed at a higher value than that from comparable property in Belgium. The Commission does not …

About shifty tax shifts

The buzz word in Belgian politics these days is ‘tax shift’. Forget about reducing taxes or cutting expenditure, the tax burden is to be shifted. The question is how and where. For many years, AmCham Belgium has been lobbying the government to reduce employment costs. As Eurostat’s figures show, Belgium has the highest labor cost within the eurozone, and within the …

Report your overseas bank accounts online

Since today you can declare your overseas bank accounts online with the Central Point of Contact National Bank of Belgium. Why? Belgium has banking secrecy rules that prevented the tax administration from asking banks for information about Belgian taxpayers. In 2011, Parliament made it easier for the taxman to set these rules aside in certain situations (see below, What is left …

Belgium publishes draft FATCA Guidelines

On 4 May 2015, the Belgian tax administration released a draft of its FATCA guidelines on its e-services web page (http://financien.belgium.be/nl/E-services/fatca). FATCA or Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act is US legislation that targets global tax evasion by US citizens. FATCA requires financial institutions outside the United States to send certain information about their clients who are US citizens, to the US tax …

Tax Havens : the top 10

Bradley Hackford, a firm specialising in international relocation, has published its 2015 ranking of the 10 top tax havens.  The ranking is based on five criteria: the rate of tax burden on the natural persons residing in that country ; the country’s quality of life ; the country’s physical and legal security ; the quality of the economic investment programme …

Taxman Announces Tax Traps

This year, once again, the tax authorities have listed the taxpayers they will target. They like to compare it to announced speed traps. They hope that if you know you are targeted, you will be more careful when completing your tax return for last year. When do you need to pay attention? If you are a company director Just like …

New form 276 Div.-Aut (for withholding tax)

The tax authorities have released a new version of the form to claim back withholding tax paid by a Belgian company or bank. The form is called 276 Div.- Aut and it comes with an explanatory note. The main change is the statute of limitation as described in the explanatory note.  Tax must be claimed within five years from 1 January of the year in …

French Social Charges and Non-Residents

The Court of Justice of European Union has ruled that it was illegal for France to charge social charges on the income and capital gains of non-residents from within the European Economic Area. In the French system of taxing income from assets and capital gains, the taxpayer does not only pay income tax, but also social security contributions (“prélèvements sociaux”) …

Tax Authorities Audit Application of Tax Treaties

In recent months, the Belgian Tax Authorities have been sending letters to all taxpayers who claimed treaty relief in their tax returns. You may have received a letter from the tax authorities with two or three pages of strange questions, referring to double tax treaties and asking weird questions. Have you also wondered why they seem to be under the …

EU Council approves new anti-abuse clause for Parent Subsidiary Directive

On 9 December 2014, the European Council approved a second amendment to the Parent-Subsidiary Directive (recast) (2011) with the aim of preventing tax avoidance and aggressive tax planning by corporate groups. The first amendment adopted in July 2014 were aimed at hybrid loan arrangements, these are financial instruments that have characteristics of debt in one country and equity. Corporate groups can use such hybrid loan arrangements …