Tax Return: Help!?

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.

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.

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 …

On Tax-on-web you can use of a digital ‘wizard’ (or magic wand) that pops up automatically for a number of codes and that shows a calculation module. That can be useful, for example, for calculating the correct amount that you are allowed to deduct on a mortgage.

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 calculates that it only takes half an hour).

It is a good idea to make a spreadsheet with the codes and the information you completed. That will help you next year.

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 30 September.

You should know that the tax authorities are also available to help. During the pandemic, you could not meet them anymore in town halls or in shopping centres. If you want them to help you, you call the number on the envelope (or the general number 02 572 56 66) and make an appointment with the tax man or woman for a telephone call. A hint: have your identity card and the code on the handy.

They will help you complete your tax return; after the call they will send you a report by mail.  You can sign that report and send it to the scanning centre, or you can file your income tax return online via Tax-on-web.

If you wish, you can now make an appointment at their offices again.

Be sure to have your tax return, your electronic identity card, your papers, payslips, 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 here.

The taxman certainly has a lot of experience, but he cannot give you more time; the deadline for paper filing is still 30 June and for online filing 15 July.

There is no shame in asking; about 1 million Belgians check with the taxman.

Please note, do not keep your questions until the last minute. The tax man only helps until 30 June.

Your tax return:

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