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Taxes in Belgium – debunked

Sadly, Belgium is a high tax country, but that doesn’t mean paying your taxes has to be more stressful, you just need to know the correct steps to take.

Taxes are deducted at source every month, which means you are paying as you earn and the sum accrued acts as a deposit on your annual tax bill. That bill is adjusted every year depending on your family situation, dependents, mortgage payments and the tax band where your salary falls, so you’ll either be asked to pay more or get some money back. Workers on secondment could be eligible for the country’s generous expat tax status. Essentially, those who qualify are entitled to a tax-free allowance for expenses associated with being employed abroad (for example, school fees) and tax-free earnings on any working day spent outside Belgium. Your employer or accountant must file a request within six months of the start of your contract.

What do you need to do?

Regardless of earned income, everyone must complete and submit a tax return. Not doing so means a possible €50-€1,250 fine plus increased taxes. While most people receive a brown envelope containing the necessary forms, others receive a letter headed ‘a proposal of simplified declaration’ (proposition de déclaration simplifiée in French or voorstel van vereenvoudigde aangifte in Dutch). This will have a calculated amount of taxes you will have to pay or a refund that you will receive (or maybe you will neither pay nor receive anything).

The calculation is made by the tax authorities based on the information they hold about you. If you agree with the amount, you don’t have to do anything. If you don’t agree, however, you will have to correct the proposal and send it back before the deadline at the end of June.

Online help

Doing your taxes online using the federal government’s tax-on-web application is the most efficient option. Introduced a few years ago, tax-on-web is an online application that takes information from your Belgian ID and fills in most of the tax forms for you automatically. This means that for most expats, the only task left is to quickly verify the numbers and send. When using tax-on-web, you also get a later filing deadline and a quicker response to tax assessments.

To use tax-on-web, you need your electronic resident’s card plus a card reader for your computer, or a token, to be obtained at your town hall. If you file by the deadline, the tax assessment will arrive around March or April the following year.

To guide English-speakers, organisations such as Taxpatria have translated Belgian tax forms into English on their website. The University of Leuven offers some useful translations for those filing in a commune in Flanders as well as step-by-step practical tips. You can also contact the Federal Public Service Finance on 0257.257.57. And off course, there's an tax guide on The Bulletin

(Photocredits: S. Buissinne)

RB

Categories:   Administration

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