Individual - Significant developments

Last reviewed - 01 February 2022

New expat tax regime

A New special tax regime has been introduced for qualifying expatriates arriving in Belgium as from 1 January 2022. This regime replaces the "old special tax regime" in place since 1983. In order to allow a smooth transition, the Belgian tax authorities have issued a circular letter which provides for a 2-year transition period during which the old regime can still be continued. The "old" special tax regime will in any case stop on 31 December 2023. Expatriates who benefited from the special tax regime can therefore continue to benefit from the "old regime" until 31 December 2023 provided they continue to meet the required conditions. In some case, they may opt-in for the New regime.  Employees starting as from 1 January 2022 may not apply for the "old regime". They can however apply for the New regime provided they meet the conditions. 

  • the essential characteristics of the new expat regime can be summarised as follows :
    • Separate, although in many regards identical, regime for executives and for qualifying researchers
    • Limitation in time to 5 years, with possible extension for another 3 years 
    • Open to employees and company key men directly recruited abroad or seconded to Belgium within international groups of companies
    • Open to both foreign and Belgian citizens, whether employee or company key men (except for researchers what regards the latter)
    • Required minimum gross annual taxable income of EUR 75.000 (not applicable to researchers)
    • Precondition of lack of submission to Belgian income tax in the 60 months preceding the start of professional activities in Belgium (whether as resident or as non-resident)
    • Precondition of previous place of residence more than 150 kilometres away from the Belgian border
    • Possibility for the employer / company to pay up to maximum 30 % of gross annual taxable income as tax and social security free expense reimbursement (a payment which comes on top of the gross salary)
    • Limitation of the 30 % lump sum tax and social security free expense reimbursement to EUR 90.000 per annum
    • Possibility for the employer / company to reimburse on top of the lump sum 30 % specific other expenses, such as moval expenses, installation costs (max. EUR 1.500) and school fees
    • New regime is individual centric, not company centric (i.e. it can be continued with another employer in Belgium, provided all conditions are still met)
    • Formal request to be made by the employer / company and by the employee / company key man within 3 months from the arrival in Belgium. 
    • Entry into force : 1st of January 2022
    • Expats who are less than 5 years under the current regime may (under certain conditions) still opt-in in the new regime (with an overall time limitation of 8 years) or choose to stay in the old regime
    • Fading out of (transitional measures of) the old regime on December 31st 2023 

Please consult our New special tax regime microsite for more detailed information regarding this New Expat Regime: microsite

Tax measures in response to COVID-19

As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, the Belgian government has introduced various tax measures of which some examples are listed below. For more details, see PwC's COVID-19 Updates.

General measures

Individuals with a CBE number or companies that can prove that they are facing difficulties directly resulting from the coronavirus spread, subject to additional conditions, can request for payment arrangements, such as payment by instalments, waiver of interests for late payments, and/or discounts on fines, for wage withholding taxes (WHTs), value-added tax (VAT), personal income tax (PIT), corporate income tax (CIT), income tax on legal entities, and non-resident income tax.

Companies that are confronted with difficulties in paying the social security contributions on their employees’ wages as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic can also request a payment by instalments for the social security contributions due for the first, second, third and fourth quarter of 2020.

It has also been decided that the tax credit related to the advance tax payments to be made for the third and fourth quarters of tax year 2021 will (temporarily) be increased (see Payment of tax in the Tax administration section in the Corporate tax summary for more information).

Individual taxes and labour

For individuals and the self-employed, a deferral or exemption from payment of social security contributions is offered, and, under certain conditions, these individuals can be entitled to transitional rights, which include a replacement income.

There is also an exemption of regional aids allocated to workers and self-employed workers in the framework of the COVID-19 crisis.

Double tax treaties (DTTs)

There is no general 'force majeure' tolerance for cross-border employment.

Belgium has, however, concluded specific agreements with France, the Netherlands, Germany, and Luxembourg, which implement a mutual 'force majeure tolerance' for cross-border workers in relation to COVID-19 (travel) restrictions. These agreements have been extended until 31 March 2022 (automatic extension will be applicable until 30 June 2022 with France, the Netherlands and Luxembourg). 

As of 14 March 2020, the presence of a worker (who normally works in Luxembourg) teleworking at home in Belgium will not be taken into account in the calculation of the 24-days in a calendar year. This is the day count calculation that tax residents of Belgium, who (under normal circumstances) work in Luxembourg, can work outside the territory of Luxembourg without attributing taxation power to Belgium.

Similarly, the Belgian and French authorities consider that the current situation related to the coronavirus meets the characteristics of a force majeure situation. Therefore, it was decided that, as of 14 March 2020, the presence of a French frontier worker at one's place of residence (in particular for teleworking) will not be taken into account for the calculation of the 30-days period by reference to which tax residents of France who usually work in Belgium can work outside Belgium.

Please note that there is currently still no administrative tolerance foreseen for foreign executives working in Belgium under the "old" special tax regime with respect to the foreign travel that is impacted solely because of COVID-19 measures. Moreover, it seems that no such tolerance will be foreseen going forward.

From a social security point of view, according to the EU regulation for social security nr 883/2004, employees who works at least 25% of their time in the country of residency are covered by the social security system in that country. Employees who perform less than 25% of work in their country of residence are usually covered by the social security system in the country where their employer is located. Due to travel restrictions linked to Covid 19, the EU adopted in June 2020 guidelines indicating that changes in the work pattern of employees due to Covid 19 should not be taken into account for the determination of the country responsible for social security. This measure has been extended until 30 June 2022. No further extension is expected after that date. 

Temporary unemployment due to force majeure

The National Employment Office (NEO) has formally acknowledged the coronavirus pandemic as a force majeure event, warranting the introduction of temporary unemployment due to force majeure in affected Belgian companies. This system of temporary unemployment allows employers to temporarily suspend the employment agreement of (some of) their employees, both blue collar and white collar workers, if it’s no longer possible for the employer to put these employees to work as a direct result of the coronavirus outbreak (e.g. because production is halted due to a lack of parts or for employees who have been quarantined).

During the suspension of the employment agreement, no salary is due and the employees are entitled to unemployment benefits. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, these unemployment benefits have been temporarily increased to 70% of the capped gross monthly salary (capped at 2,754.76 euros [EUR]) instead of the normal 65%. The same holds true for unemployment benefits due to temporary unemployment for economic reasons (see below). The unemployment benefit is increased with a daily allowance of EUR 5.63 for each day of temporary unemployment.

Businesses, such as bars and restaurants, that have been forced to fully or partially close their doors following the government’s contingency measures can also apply for the system of temporary unemployment due to force majeure for their affected staff, however, only until the end of these contingency measures.

Temporary unemployment for economic reasons

Companies that are confronted with a reduction in their customer base, production, turnover, etc. as a direct result of the pandemic and can therefore no longer maintain the normal working time schedule in the company can use the system of temporary unemployment for economic reasons for their blue collar workers. Temporary unemployment for economic reasons is also possible for white collar workers, however, in principle only in companies that are recognised as undertakings in difficulties. As a result of the current pandemic, companies that have not yet been recognised as undertakings in difficulties can file for such recognition based on exceptional circumstances. Pending approval of their request, they can use the system of temporary unemployment due to force majeure (see above).

Other measures

  • Introduction of a mandatory reporting (as of 1 January 2019) and withholding (as of 1 March 2019) requirement in the hands of a Belgian entity in case affiliated foreign companies grant taxable benefits (in kind or in cash) to employees or directors working for the benefit of the Belgian entity. 
  • Introduction of a new reporting obligation as from 1 January 2022 for companies to report the actual amount (real value) of cost proper to the employer that are reimbursed on the basis of supporting documents. 
  • According to the latest administrative instructions of the National Security Office (NSSO), social security contributions are due on all benefits related to the work performed by the employee in the framework of one's employment contract with the employer. This adjusted NSSO position applies a very broad, and possibly questionable, interpretation by stating that employees of a Belgian subsidiary only receive a benefit that is granted by a foreign parent company because of their employment with the Belgian subsidiary and that, consequently, such benefit should always be considered as salary subject to Belgian social security contributions, even when there is no intervention of the Belgian employer in the grant of the benefit and no recharge of the costs to the Belgian employer. 
  • The tax on securities account that reaches or exceeds EUR 500,000 per account holder has been abolished with effect as of 1 October 2019 after a decision of the Belgian Constitutional Court and will be replaced by a solidarity tax of 0,15% on securities accounts that reach or exceed EUR 1.000.000 (held by Belgian resident taxpayers in Belgium or abroad and by non residents in Belgium).
  • The Belgian tax authorities have updated the former lump-sum amount of EUR 0.3542 per kilometre to EUR 0,3707 per kilometre. This new amount is applicable to reimbursements made during the period from 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022.
  • The list of the so-called 'false hybrid cars' has been updated on 30 October 2020. This has an impact on the determination of the taxable benefit in kind for the beneficiary and on the corporate tax deductibility. 
  • Resident taxpayers who own a real estate abroad must report their foreign property in their Belgian tax return. Since 2021, they must submit a declaration to the Administration of Measurement and Valuations - Cel foreign cadastral income, which will determine the deemed rental value of the foreign real estate. 
  • The tax authorities, following a judgement of the Court of Cassation (15 Oct 2020) accepts now to mitigate double taxation of foreign source dividends by means of a foreign tax credit. This foreign tax credit (FTC)is available for French source dividends and may be applied for other foreign source dividends provided that the tax treaty between Belgium and this other country is drafted in a manner strictly similar to the Belgian-French treaty.