Ken uw belasting: personenbelasting of belasting van niet-inwoners – ook voor de FOD Financiën

Een individu kan in België belastbaar zijn in de personenbelasting dan wel in de belasting van niet-inwoners.

De personenbelasting is van toepassing op rijksinwoners, daar waar de belasting van niet-inwoners van toepassing is op personen, die niet in België wonen of die slechts kortstondig in het land verblijven.

Het onderscheid tussen beide belastingen is fundamenteel. Hoewel de beide belastingen veel gemeen hebben, gelden er toch tal van andere regels naargelang het gaat om de ene dan wel om de andere belasting. Ook heeft elke vorm van belasting een eigen aangifteformulier en wordt het dossier beheerd door aparte diensten binnen de FOD Financiën.

In de praktijk is het niet zo eenvoudig om na te gaan of iemand in de personenbelasting dan wel in de belasting van niet-inwoners belastingplichtig is. Dit is niet enkel belangrijk in het jaar waarin personen naar België komen (immigratie) of het land verlaten (emigratie). Ook van jaar op jaar dient op basis van de feiten in een dossier nauwkeurig opgevolgd te worden in welke van beide belastingen iemand juist belastbaar is.

Het onderscheid tussen beide belastingen doet zich niet enkel voor op het niveau van de belastingaangifte, maar ook op dat van de wijze van het bepalen van de belastbare basis en de berekening van de belasting. Traditioneel is het onderscheid tussen beide belastingen duidelijk te zien op het aanslagbiljet, waarop ook de aard van de belasting vermeld wordt.

Merkwaardig maakt de FOD Financiën voor aanslagjaar 2018 (inkomsten van 2017) geen onderscheid meer tussen beide vormen van belasting op de eerste pagina van het aanslagbiljet. Zo wordt dit jaar voor alle aanslagen gebruik gemaakt van de algemene hoofding “personenbelasting”, zelfs indien het gaat om een aanslag in de belasting van niet-inwoners.

Men moet nu verder gaan kijken naar de tweede pagina van het aanslagbiljet. Mits enig zoekwerk kan men dan opmerken dat het bevoegde belastingkantoor deel uitmaakt van de administratie buitenland en dat er ook een e-mail adres vermeld is, dat begint met “foreigners”.

Men kan ernstige vragen stellen bij deze werkwijze, die wellicht ingegeven is vanuit de betrachting de aanslagprocedures te standaardiseren en administratief zo eenvoudig mogelijk te verwerken. Toch gaat men hier ons inziens te kort door de bocht.

In eerste orde is het nu bijzonder verwarrend om beide belastingen nog van elkaar te onderscheiden op een aanslagbiljet. Men moet immers de kleine lettertjes gaan lezen om de aard van de belasting vast te stellen. Dit kan een bron zijn van allerhande geschillen achteraf. Op het vlak van de fiscale procedure zou men ook kunnen stellen dat alle aanslagbijletten in de belasting van niet-inwoners dit jaar nietig zijn omdat de juiste aard van de belasting niet op de hoofding van de aanslag terug te vinden is. Enkele medewerkers van de FOD zullen dan ook terug naar de fiscale schoolbanken verwezen moeten worden om grote moeilijkheden te vermijden.

We hopen dat de FOD Financiën snel over zal gaan tot een correctie van haar systemen en opnieuw met de nodige zorg de aanslagbiljetten in de belasting van niet-inwoners gaat opmaken.

Belgian resident tax return for income of 2018 (tax year 2019) – avoid the new mine fields

Completing a Belgian resident income tax return can be a big challenge. Every year, this challenge becomes more complex as new rules and formalities are introduced. In this article, we will cover some important attention items.

New tax exemption for dividend income

From income year 2018 onwards, dividend income is exempt from Belgian taxes up to a gross dividend amount of 640 Euro per tax payer. The actual tax saving for 2018 is 192 Euro, if the dividends are subject to the maximum rate of 30%. If the actual dividend tax rate is lower, the savings will also be reduced to a lower amount.

In order to benefit from this exemption, one has to complete the tax form in box VII.

There are several ways to complete the tax form:

If dividends were taxed at source, one can recover a part of the actual withholdings up to the maximum of 192 Euro (or a lower amount if the withholdings were not made at the highest, 30% rate or if less tax was actually withheld).

The tax payer must check, which amounts of tax were withheld at source, and which withholding rate was applied in order to calculate the amount of withholding tax, that can be recovered. The amount to be refunded is to be entered in the tax return.

Example: 1.000 Euro of dividend income was earned in 2018. Withholding tax at 30% rate = 300 Euro, was withheld at source. The tax payer has to enter the amount of 192 Euro (640 x 30%) in codes 1437 or 2437 of the tax return.

We note that if the withholding tax rate was only 20%, the amount to be recovered is limited to only 128 Euro (640 x 20%).

It is thus to the benefit of the tax payer to select those dividends with the highest withholding rate for exemption in the tax return.

Finding the appropriate amounts in the bank documents can be difficult as banks do not automatically provide tax certificates with the correct amounts to be included in the tax return. The related homework is to be done by the tax payer.

If dividends were earned abroad, often no Belgian withholding tax was paid. In such case, one has to report the dividend income in the tax return (usually codes 1444 and 2444). In order to benefit from the exemption, one can simply deduct up to the maximum amount of 640 Euro from the income, reported in the tax return.

The new exemption creates a problem for tax payers with very simple tax files, who earn some dividend income. In such cases, it is likely that the tax authorities will not issue a tax return, but simply will send a proposal for taxation to the tax payer. Only if the proposed tax is incorrect, action is required by the tax payer.

In this proposal, the new dividend exemption will never be included. This results in additional work to be done if one wants to enjoy the tax benefit:

  • either correct the proposal document and send it to the tax authorities
  • or proceed with a full electronic tax return filing (unfortunately this tool is not very user friendly, especially for persons, who are not fluent in French or Dutch language, which may cause some hurles for foreign tax payers)

Increased pension savings benefit

Tax payers can sign up to a specific pension plan to get access to a tax deduction. Up to 2017, the tax deduction was always limited to 960 Euro (amount for 2018, which is adjusted each year). This entitled the tax payer to a tax credit of 30% (so up to at most 288 Euro).

From 2018 onwards, tax payers can contribute up to a maximum of 1.230 Euro in the pension plan. When the contribution exceeds 940 Euro, the tax credit is, however, reduced to 25% (so up to at most 307 Euro).

This new system is a real booby trap:

  1. there is only an additional tax benefit if the contribution is higher than 1.152 Euro
  2. the tax payer even loses money if he contributes between 960,00 and 1.230,00 Euro

It is hard to understand why the tax authorities are of the opinion that there is the obligation to always report the actual contribution, even if this is unfavorable for the tax payer.

Example: contribution of 1.000 Euro. The benefit will only be 250 Euro. If the tax payer would only have been 960 Euro, his benefit would have been 288 Euro.

In view of the above, careful tax payers never contribute higher amounts than the base amount of 960 Euro.

New reporting obligation

Another hurdle for tax payers is the obligation to explicitly confirm in the tax return the existence of Belgian or foreign investment accounts (investments in shares, bonds or other securities with a Belgian or foreign bank) in box XIV of the tax return.

This reporting is required, even if the special tax on such accounts (0,15% tax on invested funds) is not applicable (if less than 500.000 Euro is invested) or if the tax was already settled through appropriate withholdings at source.

The situation becomes puzzling for tax payers with very simple tax files. As already mentioned, for them the tax authorities do not issue a tax return, but simply send a proposal for taxation to the tax payer.

In this proposal, the investment account reporting will never be included. In order to avoid penalties, the tax payer will thus have to:

  • either correct the proposal document and send it to the tax authorities
  • or proceed with a full electronic tax return filing, even though the actual tax amount is not influenced at all by this action (as already mentioned this tool is not user friendly)

We can conclude that notwithstanding the growing cries of the public for more simplicity of Belgian taxes and less booby trapping (equitable and equal levy of taxes), complexity still continues to increase each year.

Remuneration, received by Belgian employees from affiliated foreign companies – reporting on fiches 281 and withholding tax obligations

Recently, changes were made to Belgian tax law, which are of particular importance to companies that are part of an international group.

The authorities have noticed that employees or directors of Belgian companies or entities within international groups often receive share options or other benefits in kind from  by foreign group companies and not only from the Belgian entity. The foreign group  companies may not have a direct contract or other legal relationship with the beneficiary of the income. Such income in the past did not fall under the scope of Belgian wage withholding taxes and did not have to be reported on Belgian tax documents.

This could result in underreporting of income by the Belgian beneficiaries in their Belgian annual income tax return. Continue reading

Bezoldigingen vanwege verbonden buitenlandse  vennootschappen – rapportering op fiches 281 en inhouding van de bedrijfsvoorheffing

Recent werden er fiscale wetswijzigingen goedgekeurd, die van bijzonder belang zijn voor ondernemingen, die deel uitmaken van een internationale groep.

Vastgesteld werd dat er aan in België belastbare werknemers of bedrijfsleiders binnen internationale groepen regelmatig aandelenopties of andere voordelen van alle aard verleend worden door buitenlandse groepsvennootschappen en niet enkel door hun Belgische werkgever. Deze buitenlandse groepsvennootschappen hebben doorgaans geen directe contractuele band met de  genieter van het inkomen.

Hierdoor vielen dergelijke bezoldigingen/voordelen in het verleden buiten het toepassingsgebied van de Belgische bedrijfsvoorheffing en dienden ze niet verplicht opgenomen te worden op Belgische fiscale fiches. Deze situatie kon ertoe leiden dat de betreffende inkomsten niet correct verwerkt werden door de genieters van de inkomsten in hun Belgische belastingaangifte. Continue reading

Taks op effectenrekeningen

10 maart 2018 is een memorabele datum in de Belgische fiscaliteit. Op die dag werd er immers de eerste formele vermogensbelasting ingevoerd onder de vorm van een jaarlijkse taks op effectenrekeningen van natuurlijke personen.

De nieuwe belasting werd opgenomen onder de artikelen 151 tot 158/6 van het Wetboek Diverse rechten en taksen.

De taks wordt berekend op de waarde van bepaalde belastbare bestanddelen binnen het vermogen van de belastingplichtige, ongeacht het bedrag van de inkomsten, die de geviseerde beleggingen opbrengen. Ook als een effectenportefeuille in waarde zou dalen blijft de taks van toepassing. De taks komt gewoon bovenop alle andere bestaande belastingen, die onverkort worden geheven (zoals de roerende voorheffingen, de beurstaksen etc…).

Deze taks is volledig nieuw in ons fiscaal landschap en de concrete toepassing ervan kan behoorlijk complex worden, zoals verder in deze bijdrage zal blijken. Continue reading

On 10 march 2018 a new Belgian tax on securities and brokerage accounts was introduced

For the first time, Belgium has introduced  a tax on wealth: the tax is due on securities accounts, held by individuals. The tax becomes applicable for accounts with a value in excess of €500,000 per account holder (so of €1,000,000 for married couples and registered partners). The tax is calculated on the amount invested on the account, regardless of the actual return. For Belgian resident tax payers, the tax is applicable on Belgian and on foreign accounts (for non-residents only Belgian securities accounts are subject to tax). Continue reading

Bij verdrag vrijgesteld buitenlands inkomen in conflict met Belgische fiscale voordelen

Reeds sinds het Schumacker arrest van 14 februari 1995 en het arrest De Groot 12 december 2002, allebei van het Europees Hof van Justitie is er discussie over het verlies van  aantal fiscale aftrekposten of verminderingen in hoofde van belastingplichtigen met bij verdrag vrijgestelde buitenlandse inkomsten. De vraag rijst dan immers welk land de belastingvoordelen moet toekennen: is dit de woonstaat van de belastingbetaler of moet de werkstaat hiervoor zorg dragen?

Een aantal administratieve richtlijnen en aanpassingen aan de wet blijken vooralsnog onvoldoende om de impact van de complexe Belgische rekenregels naar behoren te ondervangen en België in lijn te brengen met de Europese beginselen van vrij verkeer. Continue reading

Proving your business travel to the Belgian tax authorities – myTaxLocator facilitates your life

The number of employees, who carry out their day to day professional activities outside Belgium is gradually increasing.

Their foreign work days may significantly impact their income tax situation as the host countries, where the work is carried out, may claim the right to tax the income for the work days, spent on their territory. This is in line with the international tax treaties, which Belgium has signed with many countries.

In Belgium, international double taxation can be avoided by claiming tax treaty exemption in the annual income tax return. Tax payers, who qualify for the Belgian special tax regime for foreign executives (tax circular of 8/8/1983) also need to be able to justify any tax exemption, claimed for work days, spent outside Belgium.

The Belgian tax authorities are each year stepping up their efforts to audit tax payers, who claim tax treaty or 1983 tax circular exemption on part of their income. The cornerstone of such a tax audit is the evidence of the actual place of work. This is the key factor to determine which country can tax (part of) the income and which country needs to grant tax treaty relief.

Keeping detailed track of work locations and also keeping evidence of the places where work is performed is a tedious task for many professionals. The key to their evidence, however, simply sits in their pocket every day. Indeed, diligent smartphones  are very skillful in tracking user locations.

In this article, we would like to draw the attention to a very interesting new smartphone app, developed by the tax professionals of the renowned international consulting firm PWC.

This mobile app, “myTaxLocator” creates a digitally signed report for international workers, kept on servers, based in Europe. The reports are accepted by tax authorities as proof of working time, spent outside Belgium, and can be used as an annex to income tax returns. As long as the app is running on a mobile phone, there is no further need to collect other evidence to prove working days outside Belgium towards the Belgian income tax authorities. This greatly reduces the administrative burden for keeping detailed evidence on foreign work days by any other means (for example hotel bills, plane tickets, meeting reports, etc…). Anxious times when tax audits arise can be avoided in a simple way.

IT security, privacy and data protection should not be a barrier for use of the app as these were all built-in by design in the myTaxLocator application. On average, once per month, user authentication is requested by the app through facial recognition. This should be easy and convenient for the user.

Once installed, myTaxLocator will take care of work day tracking with minimal user interaction. Non working time can easily be identified by the tax payer (holidays, days of sickness, etc…) for single days or even for multiple days. The user has control over the reports at any time.

The app certainly makes our devices smarter and facilitates the life of tax payers.

More info: https://appadvice.com/app/pwc-mytaxlocator/1148587033, or we are happy to bring you in touch with the right PWC person to help you further.

Nieuw jaar, nieuwe phishing

E-mails en internet vormen een onuitputtelijke inspiratiebron voor hedendaagse criminelen in hun betrachting om achteloze burgers en bedrijven ertoe aan te zetten gevoelige informatie en documenten aan te leveren, die hen toelaten om onrechtmatig gelden te bekomen.

De auteurs van phishing berichten trachten hierbij de geloofwaardigheid van hun communicaties te verhogen door te veinzen dat de verzenders ernstige partijen zijn, dan wel publieke overheden, die de burger het nodige ontzag inboezemen. Het streven van onze overheid om meer in te zetten op e-government is de cybercriminelen niet ontgaan. Continue reading

Tax valuation housing benefit: new legislation from 2019 onwards

As already mentioned in our post of 17 April 2018, when free or cheap housing is offered by an employer to an executive or employee, a benefit will be taxed on behalf of the beneficiary of such benefit. This benefit is taxed at the regular progressive tax rates (up to approximately 53,50% – communal tax of 7% included).

For many years, the rules for the valuation of taxable housing benefits were acceptable for Belgian tax payers, but following the significant (and quite unreasonable) increase of the taxable basis from income year 2012 onwards, numerous discussions have arisen. Continue reading