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The Belgian income tax return in detail

00:47 01/05/2021

Let's have a closer look at the boxes on the tax return.

I. – Bank account and contact details

This is the easy part. If you expect a tax reimbursement, make sure the taxman has your bank account number. If it is printed on the tax return, you don't have to give it again, unless you want to change the number. If the tax authorities do not have your bank account, they will mail you a cheque that you can cash in at the post office.

This is also where you can give your telephone number; you don’t have to give your email address anymore. The taxman still prefers to send letters to keep things official, but more and more they agree to correspond by email.

II. – Your family situation

This is one box where people make a lot of mistakes.

Check box 1001 if you are single, divorced or living separately from your spouse. If you are living with your partner and you haven't registered your partnership with the commune, you are also single.

Spouses and registered partners

It is only if you are married or in a registered partnership that you file your tax return together but only for the following year. If you are currently married or registered partners, check box 1002 on your separate returns. You only file jointly if you married or registered your partnership before 2020. If you did so in 2020, you file separately this year and you check box 1003, next year you will file jointly.

If your spouse or partner died, you check code 1010 as a widow(er). If you lost your partner or spouse in 2020, you have to file on paper. You need to check code 1011 and then opt for a joint or separate filing. If you need to report your deceased partner's income, you use the codes 1022 to 1026.

Check other codes if you took up separate residences (1018). However, if that happened in 2020, you also need to tick the following box because you still file jointly for the year of the separation or divorce; you can ask to file separately but you cannot do that online.

Officials of international organisations

... and their spouses or partners file separately unless the official's income was €11,090 or less.

The official of one of the European Institutions or an international organisation ticks 1062. By checking 1020, you confirm that your income as an official was over €11,090 so that you don't inadvertently get the benefit of the "marital deduction".

The spouse or registered partner of the official files a separate tax return and checks code 1021. They must mention that their spouse or partner is an international official so that the taxman doesn't deduct the marital deduction from their income.

Dependents

Dependants are all the people who live with you and who are financially dependent. A spouse or a registered partner cannot be a dependent.

Your direct dependents are all the children you had on 1 January 2021 (code 1030). To be dependent they must live with you and not have any personal financial resources or get child support over of €3,380. For single parents, the threshold is €4,880.

A child born on 30 December 2020 is as much a dependent as a child born on 2 January 2020.

For each child, the highest earner gets an additional allowance on top of his personal allowance of €8,990 against his/her taxable income. The allowance is €1,630 for one child

  • €4,210 for two children
  • €9,430 for three children
  • €15,250 for four children
  • + €5,820 for every additional child.

When the parents co-parent, they each get half of this allowance, unless they pay maintenance.

Older children

Children who are at university during the week are still considered to be living with you if they keep their registration with the commune.  And if they were working to pay for some pocket money, they can earn €2,820 and that will be disregarded as personal financial resources.

The cut-off date is 1 January 2021. This means that your daughter who was financially dependent for most of 2020, will not be a dependent for tax purposes for 2020 if she started working in September 2020.

Co-parenting

If the children are under joint custody and living alternatively with each parent, the parent with whom the children are officially domiciled gets the tax allowance for the children. Nevertheless, the parents can agree to share the tax allowance by giving the tax man a copy of the court decision or agreement between parents. The parent with whom the children are domiciled fills out code 1034; the other 1036.

All dependents give you a higher tax allowance that is tax free. If you don't claim a tax deduction for childcare, you get an additional personal allowance of €610 if you fill out code 1038. That allowance can be shared as well.

Other dependents

Some other family members can be dependent too: your parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters if they are over 65 (code 1043). Your foster parents can also be dependent. Dependents cannot have more than €3,380 in income (other than €27,230 in pensions).

Arriving or leaving Belgium in 2020 

If you arrived in Belgium in 2020, or left Belgium in 2020, you do not have a full tax year and only the part of your income that you received while resident in Belgium is taxable.  This means that less income is taxed at the lower tax rates. For that reason, the allowances above are prorated according to the number of full months you were in Belgium; that is the months that you are here on the 15th. You must put the number of full months in code 1199.

III. – Real estate

In box III, you declare the income from any real estate you may own, that can be actual rental income you receive or the theoretical income from a second or third residence.

If you only own the house you live in, you don’t need to declare anything at all, unless you rent out part of your house.

If you have a second residence, you need to declare the cadastral revenue. That figure can be found on the real property tax bill (the précompte immobilier/onroerende voorheffing). If you own it together, you each declare your share (normally 50/50) in your column (code 1106/2106). that cadastral revenue will be corrected for inflation (times 1.8492 for 2020, 1.863 for 2021) and multiplied by 1.4. Roughly speaking you will pay tax on 2.55 times the cadastral revenue.

I have a buy-to-let

If you own a rental property, you normally don't declare the actual rent, just the cadastral revenue, also in code 1106/2106.

If the tenant is a company or someone who uses the property for his profession (e.g. a physician or an accountant), you must declare the rent you receive under code 1109/2109. You pay tax on the rental income minus a deduction of 40% (however, that deduction is limited to 3.05 times the cadastral revenue).

A furnished rental

When you receive rent for a furnished apartment, you must distinguish the rent for the apartment and the rent for the furniture. The rent for the apartment is taxed in the same way as above. You just declare the cadastral revenue code 1106/2106.

The rent for the furnishings is taxed at 30%. By default, the rent for the furnishing is 40% of the rent you receive (unless you have another ratio in the rental agreement). However, you can deduct 50% by way of expenses and you only declare 50% of the 40% of the rental in code 1156-08 (this is in Box VII).   

When you receive rent for a furnished apartment, you must distinguish the rent for the apartment and the rent for the furniture. The rent for the apartment is taxed in the same way as above. You just declare the cadastral revenue code 1106/2106.

The rent for the furnishings is taxed at 30%. By default, the rent for the furnishing is 40% of the rent you receive (unless you have another ratio in the rental agreement). However, you can deduct 50% by way of expenses and you only declare 50% of the 40% of the rental in code 1156-08 (this is in Box VII).   

If your property is on Airbnb, and you provide other services to your guests, such as breakfast, daily cleaning, internet, tv, … you normally charge these separately. If not, you can calculate the part that is income from additional services (about 20% of the rental income). The income from additional services is to be reported in code 1200/2200. You can deduct expenses but you must declare these under code 1201/2201 in Box XV. That is in part II of the tax return, you may have to request that part if you file on paper. This net income is taxed at 33%.

And property abroad?

If you own property abroad, you need to declare that as well (normally in codes 1130/2130) as Belgium will normally have a double tax treaty (list) with the other country. If there is no treaty, the codes are 1123/2123.

If you receive rent, you need to declare the rent, but if you don’t (e.g. because it is a second residence), you need to declare the rental value. That is the rent you would receive from a tenant if it were let out. In general, the best thing to do is ask an estate agent to give you a rental value. Nevertheless, the tax authorities will accept a fixed value, such as the French "valeur locative" (multiply by two and deduct the tax foncière), 2% of the Spanish "valor cadastral" (1.1% if it has been determined after 1993, minus the tax) or 4% of the valuation of real property in the Netherlands.

You cannot take any deductions for expenses, but the tax authorities automatically deduct 40% to cover maintenance and repairs. You can, however, deduct the income tax you paid on the property abroad.

Although you have to declare the rental income or the rental value, that doesn't mean that you will actually pay tax on that income. The double tax treaty doesn't let Belgium tax rental income., see "Cross border taxation" on p. 33.  This means that rental income is not taxed but pushes the tax on other income that is taxable in Belgium in the higher tax brackets.

A Cadastral revenue for overseas properties

In 2018, the European Court of Justice has condemned Belgium for taxing the actual rent or the rental value of a property in another EU Member State. Rather than simply exempting the overseas income, Belgium has decided that it will give a cadastral revenue to all overseas properties. and calculate the tax based on that cadastral revenue. You can read ♦here how this will be put in place.  If the Belgian tax authorities know you have a property abroad, they will invite you to report this. 

IV. – Earnings

Box IV is relevant for most people. It relates to remuneration paid to an employee (A), unemployment benefit (B), allowances paid during illness or invalidity (C) etc.

You have received a salary statement (281.10), or a statement confirming other benefits paid during 2020, and next to each figure, you will find a code that corresponds to the codes in the tax return. E.g. your salary statement shows code 250 to the left of your salary and 286 next to the tax withheld at source. The numbers must then be copied under codes 1250 and 1286 (for the husband) and 2250 and 2286 (for the wife or registered partner).

If you have received a specific form of salary, e.g. an indemnity in lieu of notice (262 or 308), or stock options (249), these have different codes because they are taxed in a different way.

An allowance for using public transport is tax exempt if you declare it in code 1255/2255 (A.8). An allowance for using your own car is tax exempt but only up to €410.

A "non-recurring profit-based bonus" is tax exempt up to €2,968 if you complete the bonus under code 1242 (A.9).

If you were working as a freelancer, if you were a self-employed professional or contractor or a company director, you will have to download “part 2” (Dutch/French) of the draft tax return. The information you put there goes in the same pink tax return.

Work outside Belgium

If you have received remuneration for work outside Belgium and if that income is taxable in the other country under the relevant article of the double tax treaty (usually article 14 or 15, see the list), you must still include that income in your tax return. You must mention that you claim the exemption at the end of box IV under letter O. If you file on paper, you will have to copy that information in the corresponding box on p. 3 of the pink tax return.

It is advisable to attach a note to your tax return to explain for what reason the income is taxable in the country where you worked, e.g. mention the article of the double tax treaty.

Expenses

In Belgium you pay tax on net remuneration, after social security contributions and after expenses of employment.

You do not have to prove your expenses; you are entitled to an allowance calculated as a percentage of your earnings. If you earn more than €16,267,the maximum is € 4,880. If you think you can prove higher expenses, you can do so but it will take a bit of work.

  • Only expenses that are necessary to carry out your job are allowable.
  • For the commute to and from work by car, you can deduct €0.15 per km (€0.24 if you cycle to work).
  • If you use your own laptop or table, or other office equipment, you can deduct part of these if you use them for work. Larger equipment and office furniture must be depreciated. This means that every year you deduct a percentage (e.g. 10% for furniture over ten years, 33.33% for a laptop over three years). And then you have to determine how much is work related.
  • Costs that aren't exclusively professional (e.g. you use your laptop to check your private emails) are only partially allowable depending on the use (e.g. 80/20 for the use of your laptop). Only the part that relates to your job is allowable.
  • If you use a room at home as your office, you can deduct a percentage of the purchase cost of your house and the interest on the mortgage, of the electricity, etc. The percentage depends on the size of the room.
  • If you are renting, check if the rental contract allows this, the landlady has probably forbidden this because she will pay more tax if you deduct part of the rent.
  • The cost of clothing isn't allowable unless it is very specific for your job, like overalls or a lab coat. Suits and handbags aren't tax deductible.

If you want to deduct expenses, detail them in a spreadsheet and the total goes in code 1258/2258. If you leave it blank, the taxman will deduct the fixed allowance of €4,880.

If you deduct your expenses, you must assume that the taxman will ask you to prove them and will want to see the invoices and receipts. Try not to be too creative. You do not have to send the invoices with your tax return, but that may be a good idea. If you file online, and you do not have a scanner, you can use your smartphone with an app like Adobe Scan to make an attachment.

If your employer reimburses you for expenses you paid for him, that reimbursement isn't taxable income, but these expenses aren't allowable either.

If your employer does not contribute to a pension scheme for you, you can contribute – via your employer - up to 3% of your salary into a private pension scheme or with a maximum of €1,630 per year (code 1387/2387). This can give you a tax saving of 30%.

Unemployed?

If you are unemployed, you can also deduct some expenses, but there is no allowance. Allowable expenses would be your union contribution, the cost of traveling for training, postage stamps for job applications, …

There is, however, no specific code for expenses; you deduct the expenses from your unemployment benefit, and you declare the net income in code 1260/2260.

V – Pensions

Box V is for pensions and other similar income.

Please note that you will not receive the annual pension information sheet from the Pensions Office anymore, unless you file your tax return on paper. You can find the sheet in your tax box and you will find the information pre-completed in your tax return.

Your state pension goes in code 1228/2228 and a survivor's pension goes in 1229/2229. The tax that has been deducted goes in code 1225/2225. Other pensions such as the complementary pension paid by a pension fund or other pension schemes are to be reported usually under code 1211/2211. Pensions paid by the European Institutions are not liable to tax, but pensions paid by other international organisations usually are.

In Belgium, employer funded pensions are geared to be paid out in the form of a pension capital. There is a 5.55% social security contribution and a fixed tax rate of 10% if you take your pension at the legal retirement age of 65. The code will normally be 1215/2215.

If there are special forms of pension, the payslip issued by a Belgian organisation will clarify the code. If it is an overseas pension, you have to work out in which code the pension goes.

Please note that if you receive an overseas state pension that may be liable to tax in the other country. If you receive a government pension from another country, that will almost always be taxable there. Private pensions paid by an overseas pension fund or scheme are usually taxable in Belgium but that depends on the double tax treaty (check the list), e.g. a pension from the U.K. is normally taxable there, unless you took out your pension for the first time before 2013.

If the double tax treaty states that the pension is taxable in the other country and that Belgium must exempt it, you must report the pension under the relevant code as set out above, but you must mention that it is exempt at the end of box V under letter C. Do not forget to copy that at the bottom of page 3 of the actual (pink) tax return.

Even if the double tax treaty says that an occupational pension is liable to tax in Belgium, that does not always mean that it is fully taxable in Belgium. If the overseas pension has been built up by the employer to the individual and definitive benefit of the employee, in particular before 2004, the pension is not taxed as an occupational pension. It is deemed to be an annuity that belongs to the pensioner and it includes a reimbursement of capital and a payment of interest. Only the interest part is taxed at a fixed rate of 30%.

VII. – Investment income

Box VII is for the income of your investments, i.e. dividends and interest.

These are normally taxed at source; the (Belgian) bank or the company that pays the dividend deducts 30% tax when they pay out. If that is the case, you don't have to declare the interest or dividends in your tax return, but foreign banks do not withhold Belgian tax.

If you received interest on a regulated savings account, that is tax exempt up to €980 per spouse or per partner (that is €1,960 for a couple). Any interest over €980 is taxed at 15% and must be reported in code 1151/2151. The same applies to comparable savings accounts within the European Economic Area. If the bank pays you more than €980, it will deduct 15%, but the bank doesn't know if you had interest on other savings accounts. If the total interest on all your savings accounts, in Belgium and abroad, is more than €980, you have to complete code 1151/2151.

Dividends and interest on non-regulated savings accounts are taxed at 30%.

It is only when the bank has not deducted the 30% tax - mostly because it is a foreign bank - that you have to report the dividend or interest income under the correct codes, usually 1444/2444.

Moreover, you can now recover the Belgian withholding tax on dividends with a maximum of €800 per spouse or per registered partner (that will give you a tax saving of €240 if the withholding tax was 30%).  You will have to do your homework and make a list of all the dividends you received and the withholding tax deducted. The Belgian withholding tax that has been deducted from dividends from Belgian companies goes in code 1437/2437 with a maximum of €800. Dividends from overseas companies must be reported in code 1444/2444, but you can deduct the rest of the exemption of €800 first.

30% on interest and dividends is quite high as a tax, compared to 15% just a few years ago.  If you have little taxable income, you may opt to have your dividends and interest taxed with your other (taxable) income at the standard tax rates. You can deduct the bank charges, the first €8,990 is exempt as a personal allowance, and then the standard tax rates start at 25%. If the average tax rate is less than the 30% withheld at source, the difference is reimbursed. 

Overseas bank accounts

Interest and dividends received on overseas bank accounts has to be reported, usually in code 1444/2444.

The other country will also want to tax the dividends or interest. Under the double tax treaty (see the list), that will be a maximum of 10 or 15%; usually you will have to provide a certificate of residence in Belgium. If tax has been deducted, you report the net income after tax and 30% tax is due on the net. Do not forget to declare overseas bank accounts.

If you have received dividends, you may also have a securities or brokerage account, this year, you do not have to report these bank accounts, but you may have to do so next year.

Bank charges

There is a code 1170/2170 to report the fees and charges you pay to the bank. They are usually not deductible unless you pay tax on the dividends and interest at the standard tax rates rather than at the fixed rate of 30% (see above).

VI. – Alimony and child support

If you receive alimony, you must declare it in Box VI under code 1192 and you will be taxed on 80% of the maintenance.

There are separate codes for maintenance that is paid retroactively following a court decision (1193) and for maintenance that is paid in a lump sum. In that case you have to declare a percentage of that capital every year.

Child support

If you receive child support, you don't declare that in your own tax return. You need to file a separate tax return for each child, and you declare the child support in code 1192. As long as the child support is less than €11,238 per child, or €936.46 per month, they will not pay any tax. Only 80% of the child support is taxed and 80% of €11,238 is €8,990, which is wiped out by the personal allowance of €8,990.              

Even if they do not pay tax, children who receive more than €4,225 in maintenance are not dependent anymore. The threshold is €3,380, and that is 80% of €4,225.

In any case you need to identify the person who pays the maintenance, even if they aren't Belgian residents, and if you file on paper on the relevant box at the bottom of page 3.

VIII. – Maintenance paid

If you pay alimony and/or child support to your ex, you can deduct 80% of these payments from your income.

Maintenance paid can be deducted up to 80% if

  • you have a legal obligation under the civil code (or an analogous rule abroad) or under a court order to pay maintenance to an ex, (grand)children, (grand)parents, parents-in-law or children-in-law;
  • the beneficiary is destitute;
  • they don't live with you;
  • you pay regularly and the sums aren't excessive.

You need to identify the person who receives the maintenance on page 3 of your paper tax return. The tax authorities have warned they are going to pay particular attention to payments made to beneficiaries in other countries. Depending on the double tax treaty (list) between Belgium and the country where the beneficiary lives, you may have to deduct withholding tax and pay that to the State.

Some planning opportunities

When one parent pays maintenance, she can take an 80% deduction for her payments if the children are domiciled with the other parent. However, she gets no allowance for dependents; the other parent will be entitled to the full allowance. They both pay less taxes, €100 paid in maintenance gives a tax reduction of about €40.

IX. - Mortgages

In box IX you mostly report interest and mortgage payments to buy your main residence (under I) or another property (under II).

The tax incentives to buy your main residence are a regional matter and you will see that the codes relating to your main residence start with a 3 (for him, on the left) or a 4 (for her). The rules depend on whether you live. In Wallonia, it is called "chèque habitat". Brussels Capital region has kept the old federal rules for mortgages taken out until 2016 but replaced these deductions with a reduction on the purchase tax of 12.5%.  Flanders has kept the “woonbonus” for mortgages until 2019 but since 1 January 2020, replaced it with a lower purchase tax.

If you buy a second property, you are entitled to federal tax benefits (under II). That is mostly a deduction of the interest.

If you file online, a wizard helps you complete your tax return for most mortgages taken out after 2004. The taxman knows, from the bank, how much you paid in capital reimbursements and interest and the wizard helps you claiming the correct tax deductions. It does not, however, optimise the deductions for you.

X. - Other tax reductions

Box X is for all sorts of payments or expenses that you have made and for which you can claim a tax reduction. That goes from

  • gifts to charities (1394): the minimum is €40 per charity. If you received a tax certificate from the charity, you recover up to 60% of the gift by reducing your tax bill (that is due to Covid, the normal deduction is 45%);.
  • childcare (1384): you can deduct €13 per day of expenses for childcare in a crèche or in another after school care centre for children up to 14. If you have children under 3, you may be better off with the additional allowance of €610 for dependents.
  • pension saving (1361/1362), you can pay up to €980 per year to a pension savings fund or insurance, that can give you a tax saving of 30% or €294 ; you can opt for a 25% tax saving with a maximum of €1,260, the saving is €315.0.  If you pay more than €980 in pension savings, the taxman will assume you opt for the 25% tax saving. Also keep in mind that when you get a tax reduction now, when you turn 60, the bank will deduct 8% tax even if you continue pension saving.
  • titres services/dienstencheques (3365/4365, but 3363/4363 in Flanders) and PWA-chèques / cheques ALE allow you to pay for certain personal services, like cleaning. If you pay with these cheques, you can recover 15% in Brussels on a maximum of €1,520 per spouse or partner; that is €228, so that you only pay €7.65 for a cheque of €9. In Flanders, you recover 30% or €456. In Wallonia, the tax reduction is 10% with a maximum of 150 titres, that is €135 per spouse or partner.
  • If you have legal expenses insurance you can report the premium (1344/2344) with a maximum of €310 per year and that can give you a tax saving of 30% or €93.

XII. – Paying your tax in advance : “Versements anticipés”

If you have paid your tax in advance, e.g. because you don't have an employer who deducts the tax from your salary, you report that under 1570/2570 in Box XII.

Paying the tax in advance is highly recommended, in particular for self-employed. Not doing so results in a tax increase of 2.25% of the tax. If you don’t have to pay the tax in advance (e.g. the tax on dividends you receive abroad), you are entitled to a tax reduction of 1.125%.

XIII. – Overseas bank accounts and insurance

In box XIII you have to confirm whether you have bank accounts outside Belgium, even if you didn't have any income on these accounts. 

Overseas bank accounts

You tick the box with code 1075, list the countries where you have bank accounts with the name of the account holders. You also tick the box to confirm that you have reported these accounts. In fact, you don't report what accounts you have to the taxman but to the National Bank.

Why is that?

Belgium has banking secrecy rules; the taxman cannot look at your bank accounts. However, in some circumstances he can investigate your bank accounts. To keep up appearances, the banking secrecy is maintained by storing the information with the National Bank. The National Bank has the list of your Belgian bank accounts, but you must report your overseas bank accounts yourself. You can do that online (with your electronic identity card) or on a paper form. When you open or close an account, you must report that as well.

How much is known about my bank accounts?

There isn't much information in the National Bank’s database, just a list of your bank accounts. That list helps the taxman when he wants to investigate your bank accounts, but he can only get that list if he has indications of tax fraud or if he has indications that your spending is higher than the income you declared. What is more, he must give you a chance to volunteer that information.

The list of bank accounts helps the tax man identify the banks where you have accounts; he can then contact them to investigate these accounts. There is no information about the money on your accounts, but that is just a matter of time (see "Nowhere to hide", p. 45)

Life insurance

You must also report that you have overseas life insurance policy (check the box at code 1076). However, no further information must be given about the name of the insurance company, just the names of the policy holders and the country. You don't give the value of the insurance policies.

Please note that life insurance is normally not taxable in Belgium. "Branch 21" policies are an alternative for savings accounts, and they are tax free if taken out for more than 8 years. "Branch 23" policies ("insurance wrappers") are linked to investment funds and they can go up and down. The gains are tax free.

Trusts

You have to confirm whether you have set up a legal arrangement (a “construction juridique”) or whether you are the beneficiary who received a benefit of such a legal arrangement. This is a difficult word for a trust, a foundation or a foreign company in which you accumulate income tax free.

Cayman tax

If you have such a legal arrangement, you must also declare the interest and dividends that accumulated in it. This is called the "Cayman tax". It is advisable to get some legal help if you have to pay the Cayman tax.

Capital gains

As a matter of principle, Belgium doesn't tax capital gains if they are made by way of "normal management of private wealth". Private wealth is anything that you don't use for your job or for professional purposes. And the normal management of your private wealth is what you do to keep your wealth growing safely, without speculating. Speculation would be e.g. borrowing to get leverage to make more profit.

In general, gains on the sale of shares or property are tax exempt, with a few exceptions:

  • the capital gain on the sale of your main residence is always tax exempt,
  • capital gains on a second residence or other property in Belgium are only tax exempt after five years. If you sell within five years, the capital gain is tax at 16.5 %.
  • capital gains outside the normal management of private wealth are taxed at 33%, plus local tax (between 6 and 9 % of 33%). These include speculative capital gains.
  • ccapital gains on the sale of an important participation in a company are liable to tax at 16.5% (plus local tax); if you are in this situation, check with your accountant.
  • if you are a day trader, that may well become a professional activity and then your gains may be liable to tax, and possibly social security, as a professional investor.

Stock exchange tax

Belgium has always charged a tax on stock exchange transactions, such as the purchase and sale of some financial instruments (bonds and stocks) on a secondary market, and the sale of mutual funds (UCITS), through a Belgium-based professional intermediary, a bank or broker.  

The tax is also due when you buy or sell through a foreign bank or on an online account. And you must declare and pay the stock exchange tax yourself, unless the overseas bank appoints a representative to do that.

The rate varies depending on the nature of the instrument, and the tax is payable by each party to the transaction. The stock exchange tax is charged at :

  • 0.35% on the sale or purchase of shares (maximum €1,600 per transaction);
  • 0.12% for bonds and mutual funds (max. €1,300 per transaction);
  • 1.32% on the sale of accumulation mutual funds (capped at €4,000 per transaction);

When a distribution fund redeems its units, no tax is due, but the sale or purchase of such units on the secondary market is taxed at 0.12% (max. €1,300).

Belgian residents who must pay the stock exchange tax must file a tax return and pay the tax before the end of the second month following the taxable transaction.

Tax on Securities Accounts

In 2018 Belgium introduced a wealth tax; in 2019, the Constitutional Court declared the tax discriminatory and annulled the tax … for the future.  This means that you had to pay the tax a last time in 2020. This year, the tax is not due.

However, the government has introduced a new Tax on Securities Accounts that will be due as of next year. The tax is due per account that is worth more than €1,000,000. This means that a taxpayer who has an account worth more than €1,000,000 still has to pay the tax. However, a taxpayer who has two accounts worth €600,000 will not have to pay the tax anymore.

More from our 2021 income tax guide

  1. When do I need to file my Belgian income tax return?
  2. Online or on paper?
  3. Filing online
  4. Understanding the paper tax return
  5. Checklist: What documents do you need?
  6. The return in detail
  7. Belgian income tax: There's nowhere to hide
  8. A guide to cross-border taxation
  9. Belgian income tax returns for families
  10. Help! Where to get assistance with your tax return
  11. Understanding your Belgian income tax bill
  12. How do I appeal?
  • This guide was written by Marc Quaghebeur, an international tax lawyer and partner at Cabinet DAVID. It is a general introduction based on current understanding of the law. It is not to be taken as a suitable alternative for individual advice.
Written by Marc Quaghebeur

Comments

ColinB

A very good article, Marc. Thank you.

I have a query on one of your remarks.
You state: "... e.g. a pension from the U.K. is normally taxable there, unless you took out your pension for the first time before 2013."

On the gov.uk site, they state: "If you’re not a UK resident, you don’t usually pay UK tax on your pension. But you might have to pay tax in the country you live in. There are a few exceptions - for example, UK civil service pensions will always be taxed in the UK."

So, it appears that UK pensions paid to non-UK residents are generally paid brut and we must declare them without using the exemption (Belgian tax return Cadre V section C).

Can you/someone confirm that? Thank you.

Oct 5, 2019 08:10
ColinB

A clarification on my comment above:

You didn't mention the UK State Pension explicitly, but just "If you receive a government pension from another country, that will almost always be taxable there.".

My comment refers to the UK State Pension, of course, which is generally paid gross, unless HMRC can collect any tax due on the state pension through the Pay As You Earn system, if you have another source of taxable earned income, such as a private pension or employment income.

Oct 5, 2019 11:40
MQ

The information given by HMRC is given in general terms for all countries ; pensions are taxed in the country of residence (Belgium) and not in the country where the pension originates (the UK).
That was the case for UK pensions received by Belgian residents until 2012. The double tax treaty between Belgium and the UK stated that UK pensions were taxable in Belgium only and that the UK had to exempt the pension.
In 2013, the rule was inversed and nowadays UK pensions can be taxed in the UK, Belgium has to exempt the pension but when Belgium gives an exemption, that is with “exemption with progression”. “Exemption with progression" means that Belgium exempts the overseas income but that the Belgian tax authorities will take account of this exempted income to determine the tax rate that applies to any income that is taxable in Belgium. In effect this pushes the Belgian income in the higher tax brackets.
Please note that the old rule still applies for pensioners who received their pension for the first time before 2013. The pension is exempt in the UK.

May 27, 2020 20:48
lizevans55

If I live in UK but get a state pension from Belgium, do I just fill in the personal and bank details and pension amounts in section V?

Nov 8, 2020 01:58
agkbrown

Hi Liz I too live in the UK and have received a green non resident tax return for my small state pension from Belgium. I worked there for 5years in 1980’s I’m struggling to fill in the boxes on the form which is in French and due on 3rd December. The help lines are only in French. I’m a UK taxpayer and apart from the pension don’t have any other Belgian income. Are you Liz or anybody else able to advise? The form also seems to ask about foreign (non Belgian) income but I live and pay tax in the UK. Can anybody advise?

Nov 9, 2020 14:44
lance.adkin@bti...

I'm asking the same questions as the two above. I think I know what's required but my forms are in Flemish and I don't want to mess things up.
Don't suppose there are any forms published in English?

Nov 15, 2020 16:56
Verhulst1180

Hi Liz & AGKBrown
I have just received a green non resident tax return for the first time too and like you both, am struggling. My French is now so rusty too to make sure I complete form correctly. Did you get any help or advice?

Jan 7, 2021 15:11
Gonderange

I am in the same situation as the others above - I live in the UK and just received a Belgian tax declaration in Dutch to complete for my Belgian state pension which I had not realised was taxable in Belgium under the UK - Belgium DTA (previously I lived in Switzerland and the Belgian-Swiss DTA is different and means the pension was taxed in Switzerland). I asked them to send the forms again in French but I would really like to know whether I only need to fill in the personal and bank details and Section V for my small Belgian pension. My MinFin contact seemed to suggest there might be no tax payable because the pension income is low, but I don't think there is a personal allowance for non Belgian residents? And if it is taxed in Belgium, all the joys of trying to claim Double Tax Relief with HMRC are still to come !! :-(

Jan 19, 2021 16:33
Annemos

Good evening everyone.

I have just been corresponding about this on the Martin Lewis site.

If you read through, there are different rules for a Belgian pension received before 2013 and those from 2013.

Here is the chat. He was one who still came under the old rules and so his is 100% taxed in the UK. However, the attached links are valid for us too, under the new rules, where we are taxed in Belgium.

https://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/discussion/6216042/belgian-state-pe...

So for those of us like me, living in the UK and receiving the Belgian pension which is now taxed in Belgium and not the UK, I think the following will apply. (Mine is not due until April, so this has not been tested yet.)

We file a Non-Resident Return (Not a resident return)
We fill the Belgian Pension in Part VI
We fill all our non-Belgian source income in Part XIII

And the reason we have to fill in that non Belgian Income Part XIII, is because they will only offset our Belgian pension with a deduction/allowance, if our Belgian pension is at least 75% of our worldwide total income.

In my case, the Belgian pension is very small and so I think it will just get hit with the 25% tax rate (and no offsets). And I think there may be an additional 7% to pay in lieu of a commune tax?

As I say, I have not tested this out yet. But this is what I think will be happening. Also it may be that they do not withhold any tax at source and so we would always have to do a tax return for Belgium to pay the tax over.

By the way, I have just sent the CFN-901 form to HMRC and they say they will forward the details to the Belgian pension authorities who will then set the process in motion.

Has anybody done this recently? Does HMRC action this quickly? (Bearing in mind Covid and their folks could be working from home?)

Jan 23, 2021 02:00
Annemos

Correction to the last paragraph. I sent that form to the Pension Service in Newcastle (part of the Department of Work and Pensions).

Jan 24, 2021 12:53
Mariolanza

I live in the UK and am in receipt of a Belgian pension; this since 2012 when I was 65.
My mother tongue is French and if anyone needs help with completing their form or any other correspondence, please ask and I will be pleased to help.

Jan 25, 2021 00:20
Mariolanza

Annemos was very helpful in explaining that, thankfully, I will not be liable for tax on my Belgian pension in Belgium as I havebeen receivingit befire 2013. I have notified HMRC of this pension and pay tax on it in England.
Also, the Tour du Midi people have told me my pension is so small, it doesn't reach the threshold for tax but I'm not sure if it is with the addition of my UK pensions.

Jan 25, 2021 00:25
gronman

On my tax calculation the personal allowance isn't deducted from my income BEFORE taxes are applied; instead 25% of the allowance (€2,215 of €8,860) is deducted from the actual taxes. This doesn't really make sense to me, does anyone know how this calculation is made?

Apr 13, 2021 21:47
cgbspender

I started to work in Belgium in the middle of 2020, while my spouse and children have been living in Germany up to 2021. We are citizens of a third non-EU country, and my family got their visas in 2021. How should I declare my foreign (to Belgium) spouse on my tax declaration? Am I considered as a single?

May 18, 2021 18:51
MQ

To LIZEVANS55
If you are retired, you have to fill out
1001 / 1002 / 1010 /1018 … : marital status
1073 : resident outside the European Economic Area
1211 : your private work pension
1228 : your own Belgian state pension
1229 : your survivor’s state pension
1225 : the tax deducted from your pension
1330 : your non-Belgian pension

May 28, 2021 12:48
MQ

To LIZEVANS55
If you are retired, and you live in the UK you have to fill out
1001 / 1002 / 1010 /1018 … : marital status
1073 : resident outside the European Economic Area
1211 : your private work pension
1228 : your own Belgian state pension
1229 : your survivor’s state pension
1225 : the tax deducted your pension
1330 : your non Belgian pension
See also : https://www.taxation.be/help-i-received-a-tax-return-from-the-belgian-ta...

May 28, 2021 12:51
Suquie

I am at a loss to know what to do. I live in the UK and have done so since 2003. From 1 May 2012 I received a belgian state pension covering the period I lived and worked in Belgium. I have always declared this in the UK. In December 2020 I received a non residents tax form to fill in for 2019. I phoned the HMRC in the UK and spoke to a tax expert who told me that if my pension dated from before the new convention ie 1 January 2013, I should continue to declare the money in the UK. So in January 2021 I wrote back to Belgium stating this. They replied to me at the end of April saying they were not in agreement and I should declare the pension on the form. But they gave me the opportunity of disagreeing with them and stating the reason which I did. I am now waiting for a reply. But in the meantime I phoned HMRC again and spoke to another tax expert who confirmed what the first had said. I also sent an email to the tax office in Belgium asking them about this and got a reply saying I should fill in the tax form. Somebody please help me. I am going round in circles. Many thanks to anybody who can give me some advice on this.

Jun 5, 2021 15:32
MQ

please read this article on the subject
https://www.taxation.be/confused-uk-retirees/

Jun 11, 2021 08:45