Box IV is relevant for most people. It relates to remuneration paid to an employee (A), unemployment benefit (B), allowances paid during illness or invalidity (C) etc.
You have received a salary statement (281.10), or a statement confirming other benefits paid during 2017, and next to each figure, you will find a code that corresponds to the codes in the tax return. E.g. your salary statement shows code 250 to the left of your salary and 286 next to the tax withheld at source. The numbers must then be copied under codes 1250 and 1286 (for the husband) and 2250 and 2286 (for the wife or registered partner).
If you have received a specific form of salary, e.g. an indemnity in lieu of notice (262 or 308), or stock options (249), these have different codes because they are taxed in a different way.
An allowance for using public transport is tax-exempt if you declare it in code 1255/2255 (A.9). An allowance for using your own car is tax-exempt but only up to €410.
A “non-recurring profit-based bonus” is tax-exempt up to €2,968 if you complete the bonus under code 1242 (A.9).
If you were working as a freelancer, if you were a self-employed professional or contractor or a company director, you will have to download “part 2” (Dutch/French) of the draft tax return. The information you put there goes in the same pink tax return.
Work outside Belgium
If you have received remuneration for work outside Belgium and if that income is taxable in the other country under the relevant article of the double tax treaty (usually article 14 or 15, see the list / map), you must still include that income in your tax return. You must mention that you claim the exemption at the end of box IV under letter O. If you file on paper, you will have to copy that information in the corresponding box on p. 3 of the pink tax return.
It is advisable to attach a note to your tax return to explain for what reason the income is taxable in the country where you worked, e.g. mention the article of the double tax treaty.
In Belgium, you pay tax on net remuneration, after social security contributions and after expenses of employment.
You do not have to prove your expenses; you are entitled to an allowance calculated as a percentage of your earnings. If you earn more than €16,267, the maximum is € 4,880. If you think you can prove higher expenses, you can do so but it will take a bit of work.
- Only expenses that are necessary to carry out your job are allowable.
- For the commute to and from work by car, you can deduct €0.15 per km (€0.24 if you cycle to work).
- If you use your own laptop or tablet, or other office equipment, you can deduct part of these if you use them for work. Larger equipment and office furniture must be depreciated. This means that every year you deduct a percentage (e.g. 10% for furniture over ten years, 33.33% for a laptop over three years). And then you have to determine how much is work-related.
- Costs that aren’t exclusively professional (e.g. you use your laptop to check your private emails) are only partially allowable depending on the use (e.g. 80/20 for the use of your laptop). Only the part that relates to your job is allowable.
- If you use a room at home as your office, you can deduct a percentage of the purchase cost of your house and the interest on the mortgage, of the electricity, etc. The percentage depends on the size of the room.
If you are renting, check if the rental contract allows this, the landlady has probably forbidden this because she will pay more tax if you deduct part of the rent.
- The cost of clothing isn’t allowable unless it is very specific for your job, like overalls or a lab coat. Suits and handbags aren’t allowable.
If you want to deduct expenses, detail them in a spreadsheet and the total goes in code 1258/2258. If you leave it blank, the taxman will deduct the allowance of 4,880.
If you deduct your expenses, you must assume that the taxman will ask you to prove them and will want to see the invoices and receipts. Try not to be too creative. You do not have to send the invoices with your tax return, but that may be a good idea. If you file online, and you do not have a scanner, you can use your smartphone with an app like Adobe Scan to make an attachment.
If your employer reimburses you for expenses you paid for him, that reimbursement isn’t taxable income, but these expenses aren’t allowable either.
If your employer does not contribute to a pension scheme for you, you can contribute – via your employer – up to 3% of your salary into a private pension scheme with a minimum of €1,630 per year (code 1387/2387). This can give you a tax saving of 30%.
If you are unemployed, you can also deduct some expenses, but there is no allowance. Allowable expenses would be your union contribution, the cost of traveling for training, postage stamps for job applications, …
There is, however, no specific code for expenses; you deduct the expenses from your unemployment benefit and you declare the net income in code 1260/2260.
Your tax return:
- the Guide
- Tax filing in Corona Times
- Is this your first time?
- Couples and Children
- When do I need to file?
- on Paper or Online?
- Filing Online
- Filing on Paper
- Box I – Contact Details and Bank Account
- Box II – Your Family Situation
- Box III – Real Estate
- Box IV – Earnings
- Box V – Pensions
- Cross Border Taxation
- Box VI – Maintenance Received
- Box VII – Investment Income
- Box VIII – Maintenance Paid and Losses from Previous Years
- Box IX – Mortgage Payments
- Box X – Other Tax Deductions
- Box XII – Paying your Taxes in Advance
- Capital Gains
- Box XIII – Overseas Accounts and Insurance Policies
- Box XIII – Trusts
- Stock Exchange Tax
- Tax on Securities Accounts
- Nowhere to hide
- The Tax Bill
- Appealing the Tax Bill