Tax law news
Overview of the latest tax news
Evidence unlawfully obtained during a visit from the tax authorities is not necessarily excluded
20 May 2022
In a recent verdict, the Court of Cassation opposes to the automatic exclusion of evidence illegally obtained by the tax authorities, even when gathered during a visit of the taxpayer’s private premises without proper authorisation from the police court. The use of the evidence can only be excluded if the so-called “Antigone test in tax matters” requires such a sanction. The verdict underlines the importance of a taxpayer’s preparedness when facing tax audits in general and unannounced visits from the tax authorities in particular. Deloitte Legal’s Tax Audit Readiness offering can make an impact that matters.
Declaration of payments to tax havens: Tax audit wave
6 May 2022
Since tax year 2011, Belgian companies are required to declare payments of minimum EUR 100,000 made directly or indirectly to recipients established in so called ‘tax havens’. The aim is to make those payments more visible for the tax authorities and to facilitate tax audits.
The tax audit wave recently initiated demonstrates that the Belgian tax administration thoroughly investigates the declared payments. This is in line with the government's action plan for combating tax and social fraud of 1 April 2022. In its action plan, the government considers the rules regarding payments to tax havens as an efficient measure against tax fraud.
The first audits show that the tax administration easily considers payments that do not meet the deductibility requirements as non-deductible by applying a stringent administrative position.
Second action plan to combat international and complex tax fraud
29 April 2022
Recently, a second action plan to combat tax fraud was launched under the supervision of the Belgian minister of finance. The plan focuses on international tax aspects and proposes several points of action to make the fight against tax fraud more effective. Two noteworthy measures with regard to tax procedure are the prolongation of the existing periods of investigation and assessment and the possibility to impose penalty payments to reinforce cooperation during a tax investigation. Neither of these are obvious measures.
CJEU ruling enhances legal certainty for taxpayers on VAT fixed establishment concept
11 March 2022
The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on 7 April 2022 released its judgement in the Berlin Chemie case (C-333/20) on the concept of a fixed establishment for VAT purposes. The case had been referred to the CJEU by the Curtea de Apel Bucureşti (Court of Appeal, Bucharest). The CJEU ruled that a subsidiary providing exclusive marketing and publicity services to a group company acting as central entrepreneur does not create a fixed establishment for VAT purposes of the central entrepreneur in the subsidiary’s country of residence. In its considerations, the CJEU explicitly acknowledges that the same resources cannot be used simultaneously by the subsidiary to provide services and by the foreign group company to receive those services. The ruling provides clear guidance for tax authorities around Europe to define their position on the VAT fixed establishment concept, which hopefully will restore legal certainty for taxpayers.
New EU rules on reduced VAT rates lead to changes in Belgium
7 March 2022
On 5 April 2022, the European Council formally adopted Council Directive (EU) 2022/542 introducing reforms to VAT rates. Under the new rules, that were agreed in December 2021 and endorsed without changes by the European Parliament, EU member states are able to apply reduced VAT rates and even a super-reduced or zero VAT rate to an updated and extended list of supplies (see Deloitte Belgium’s VAT alert dated 9 December 2021). The new directive amends Directive 2006/112/EC on the common system of VAT (the European VAT directive) and Council Directive (EU) 2020/285 concerning the special scheme for small enterprises and applies as from 6 April 2022, its date of publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.
Renewed collaboration between Belgian Tax Authorities, Public Prosecutor and Police in the form of MOTEMs
23 February 2022
A recent legislative proposal sets out the legal framework to allow for a new form of active collaboration between Belgian Tax Authorities, Public Prosecutor and Federal Judicial Police. This collaboration will take the form of MOTEMs or Multidisciplinary Teams of Investigation. These highly specialised teams will conduct investigations regarding serious tax fraud and money laundering, amongst others. Are MOTEMs stepping away from the principles of the 1986 Taxpayer Charter and the fundamental rights of defence?
Long awaited reform of EU VAT rates agreed by European Council
9 December 2021
On 7 December 2021, the Council of the European Union agreed the text of a
proposed directive on reforms to EU VAT rates that have long been debated.
Under the new rules, member states would be able to apply reduced VAT rates
and even a super-reduced or zero VAT rate from a renewed and extended list
that would replace both the existing list (dating back to a directive from 1992)
and derogations granted to individual member states. The proposals must be
endorsed by the European Parliament before the Council can formally adopt
Belgian Minister of Finance confirms intention to implement mandatory B2B einvoicing
15 November 2021
In accordance with the announcements in the 2022 budget agreement,
Belgium’s Minister of Finance Vincent Van Peteghem released a policy note on
29 October 2021 reaffirming the intended implementation of an e-invoicing
mandate for business-to-business (B2B) transactions in the near future.
VAT fiscal representative: new calculation method for the financial guarantee towards tax authorities
26 August 2021
New rules will apply for calculation of the financial guarantee when a fiscal representative is appointed as from 1 October 2021. The financial guarantee, which must always be provided, will be set at 10% of the annual VAT balance due, with a minimum of EUR 7,500 and a maximum amount of EUR 1,000,000. Royal Decree 31 has been amended to reflect the new rules (Dutch | French).
Demolition and reconstruction: VAT-authorities publish updated FAQ
14 June 2021
The generalised application of a reduced VAT rate of 6% for the demolition and reconstruction of dwellings has entered into force since 1 January 2021. The main novelty is that the scheme allows, until 31 December 2022, the sale of reconstructed dwellings throughout Belgium with a 6% VAT rate. The VAT-authorities now published an updated version of its 'FAQ' on 3 June 2021 (see also our earlier VAT Alert). This update contains a number of new views and clarifications (Dutch | French).
Supreme Court confirms limitation of VAT deduction on publicity and estate agency fees on split sales of land and buildings
11 June 2021
In a judgment dated 21 May 2021, the Supreme Court decided that, in the context of the Vos Aannemingen case, the VAT authorities had rightly limited the deduction of VAT on publicity and estate agency costs paid by the construction company in a split sale structure (land sold by the landowner and buildings sold by the construction company/building company). However, the Court did not rule on the extent to which the deduction of VAT on such costs should then be limited.
No fixed establishment for VAT when a foreign based company rents out immovable property without own staff
8 June 2021
On 3 June 2021, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) issued its ruling in the Titanium Ltd case (C-931/19), regarding the question whether renting out real estate can qualify as a fixed establishment for VAT. In a bold and clear judgment, the Court confirms that there is no fixed establishment if no own personnel is in place.
Can customs authorities also claim VAT?
18 March 2021
The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) brought further clarity to situations where a certain Member State’s customs authorities claim VAT in addition to customs duties. In each post-recovery case, one should check whether the Member State that can recover customs duties can also recover VAT.
Tax authorities launch new wave of foreign account audits. How far can they go back?
18 May 2020
Many taxpayers recently received a questionnaire from the tax authorities concerning their foreign financial accounts and holdings. The tax authorities ask extensive questions about foreign accounts, foreign life insurances and real estate abroad. Furthermore, in many cases, the authorities request information for income years dating back to 2012. Is such a position in line with the statute of limitations on tax audits and investigations?
Optional VAT on immovable letting also subject to registration fee
26 March 2020
Following the amended VAT legislation on the letting of real estate that entered into force on 1 January 2019, the administration competent for real estate transfer tax has confirmed that the registration of a lease agreement that opts for the application of VAT is in principle (also) subjected to the proportional registration fee of 0.20%.
New VAT rules for companies without legal personality
28 January 2020
Following the new company code's recent entry into force, the VAT administration published a (short) commentary relating to partnerships and de facto associations. The new VAT regime can have important consequences in practice.
Taxation of gains due to amended urban planning requirements updated
22 January 2020
A new Flemish Decree has recently updated the existing rules on the taxation of gains due to amended urban planning requirements. In addition, the rules on the compensation that is due when landlords suffer damages resulting from amended urban planning requirements have been adjusted.
Benefit in kind for housing: Constitutional Court asked to rule on admissibility of ex officio relief request
17 October 2019
On 7 October 2019, the Antwerp Court of Appeal referred a question to the Constitutional Court regarding the application of ex officio relief on the benefit in kind amount for housing. If the Constitutional Court were to rule in favour of the plaintiff, this would effectively confirm that taxpayers can reclaim overpaid taxes on the benefit in kind for housing from the previous five years.
Tax audit wave on foreign investment income (U.S. FATCA - CRS)
22 July 2019
As a result of FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) and CRS (Common Reporting Standard), Belgian tax authorities receive information from other countries, regarding financial accounts held by Belgian residents in other jurisdictions.
Tax authorities paying closer attention to capital increases and decreases
19 July 2019
As mentioned recently in the Belgian press, companies undergoing a capital decrease after an initial capital increase will be a focus point for the tax authorities in the next few year(s). In preparation for these future investigations, several cases were observed where local tax authorities asked questions related to capital increases. This is a centrally managed action.