Belgium adapts legislation to take account of personal and family circumstances

On 11 September 2015, the tax authorities published an addendum to Practice Note Ci.RH.331/575.420 (AOIF 8/2008) with respect to the granting of benefits linked to a taxpayer’s personal or family situation. The addendum is issued in response to a reasoned opinion issued by the European Commission on 16 July. The Commission asked Belgium to adapt its rules on tax benefits connected to the personal or family situation …

Belgium lists Luxembourg and Cyprus as tax havens …

… but says not to take it too seriously. The tax authorities have published an addendum to their practice note Ci.RH.421/607.890 (AAFisc nr. 64/2010) to comment on the list of states that have not effectively or substantially implemented the OECD exchange of information standard. Since 1 January 2010 Belgian companies and permanent establishments of foreign companies must report in their annual tax return all (direct …

Belgium reorganises audits of large enterprises

On 1 July 2015, the Ministry of Finance has set up 7 regional offices ‘Large Enterprises’ that will be in charge of the audit and the dispute resolution for some 15,000 large enterprises and non-profit organisations.  As of 1 July 2016, the Ministry will stop auditing these large enterprises based on the type of tax due (company income tax, VAT) and organise audits on the basis of …

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 criticize the way Belgium assesses …

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 EU, Belgium comes second after …

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 of the banking secrecy?) However, …

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 authorities, the IRS. On 23 …

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 developed by the local government …

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 employees, company directors can opt …

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 which the tax was withheld. That …