Belgian resident tax payers have an obligation to report their taxable income in their annual Belgian income tax return. This includes income from investments, such as dividends and interest income, which is earned abroad.
For Belgian bank accounts, a central registration of tax payer data has in the past been set up with the National Bank of Belgium through a Central Contact Point (CCP). Belgian financial institutions systematically transfer information on the bank account number and contracts with their Belgian clients to the CCP.
The CCP, however, is not fed with data on foreign bank accounts. Recently, a Royal Decree was issued to organize the reporting of foreign bank account numbers to the CCP. The reporting is required for non-Belgian bank account numbers, of accounts that were held during any time in the year by the tax payer, his partner and dependent children.
Reporting must be done by Belgian resident tax payers, who are filing annual resident tax returns and must at the latest be done when the tax return is filed. No reporting is required for accounts that were already reported to the CCP in the past.
A foreign account has been defined as any entry in the accounting records of a banking, exchange, credit or savings institution, based on an agreement with the tax payer, that makes it possible to monitor on an individual basis flows and balances of monetary or financial assets, kept by the institution on account of the tax payer.
This is a large definition and not only covers accounts that are used for receiving income or to initiate payments. Also investment accounts (for example in bonds, shares, commodities or money market accounts) are covered by the reporting obligation.
Only foreign accounts, that are only used to immediately remit payments from or to a Belgian account of the tax payer are not to be reported. This is, for example, the case for a Paypal that is only used for the payment (refund) of an internet transaction outside the scope of a professional activity of the tax payer. The exception does not apply in case funds are kept longer on the account than strictly required for payment purposes.
In case there are several account holders, each one of them has a reporting obligation. There is also reporting for associations without legal personality, of which the tax payer is a member/partner (in such case funds are also co-owned by the members/partners).
Foreign accounts of dependent children, that are included in the Belgian tax return by their parents must also be reported by the parents.
Identification and information to be provided
The tax payer is identified by means of his name, first name and Belgian registration number (“Rijksregisternummer”) or by his social security identification number (“Register bis”).
Per account, the following information must be reported:
Start and end date
One must report those accounts that were owned or co-owned during any period of the taxable year, except if reporting to the CCP was already done in a prior year.
For older accounts, it may be difficult to trace the actual starting date of the account. Based on the law, the information should relate to the Belgian tax years 2012 to 2014 (income years 2011, 2012 and 2013). A tax payer, who holds an account since (at least) 2011 can indicate 2011 as reference year to the CCP. If a new account is opened in 2013, additional CCP reporting is done in 2013.
An account that has been reported remains in the CCP system from year to year up to the moment when the tax payer indicates to the CCP that the account has been closed.
When children cease to be tax dependents, the following actions take place:
How to do the reporting?
Reporting can be done to the CCP in an electronic or in paper format.
Electronic reporting is done through the web site of the National Bank of Belgium. The tax payer and his proxy holders can use their electronic ID card to identify themselves.
Paper reporting is done on the form, issued by the National Bank. It is completed by the tax payer or a proxy holder and is sent to the National Bank of Belgium. A copy (both sides) of the ID card of the tax payer or of the residence permit (in the absence of a Belgian ID card) must be added.
In case a proxy is used, additional documents are required:
If certain formalities are not properly met, the National Bank cannot process the tax payer report and will contact him to request the right information. Such additional information must be provided within 30 days.
Once the file is complete, the CCP registers the date of reception of the data and notifies the tax payer or his proxy holder of this date.
The tax payer can always take the initiative to correct wrong or incomplete data with the CCP.
Use of the data and removal of the data
If the tax authorities want to consult the CCP, they have to request the information with the National Bank of Belgium, that processes the request with its own staff.
Not all tax officials can request data with the CCP. This is normally limited to those officials, who are assessing the income taxes due. If information is needed for tax collection purposes, this will initially be handled through higher ranking officials.
Data are kept for a limited period of time:
After this period, the data are removed from the CCP.
The new system has already entered into force. Tax payers will have to start reporting data for 2014 before they file the annual income tax return for this year. It is expected that they will also be invited by the Belgian tax authorities to report foreign bank accounts for 2011-2013. It is advisable not to wait for such invitation and to immediately proceed with the proper reporting for all years.