- Daily & Weekly newsletters
- Buy & download The Bulletin
- Comment on our articles
Belgian income tax: The Bulletin's guide to filing your 2018 return
It's time to file your tax return again. 29 June is when the taxman expects your tax return unless you file online; then you have another two weeks.
For the first time ever, there are different tax forms if you live in Brussels, Flanders or Wallonia - all in two or three languages. This is because some of the tax incentives reductions, such as for mortgages, cheques-service and renovations are given by the regions. And separate tax returns help avoid unnecessary mistakes.
Whether you are new to Belgium or have been filing your tax return here for years, you may have a number of questions. We will address some of these questions and we will address some other questions you didn't know you had.
For the newbies, in a nutshell
If this is the first time you file a tax return, here are a few things you need to know.
The first time, you will receive a brown envelope with a tax return and some documents to help you file. Whether you receive a Brussels, Flemish or Walloon tax return depends on where you were registered on 1 January 2018.
You can file on paper or online. Four out of five taxpayers file online, and the number of people who prefer to file paper tax returns is dwindling.
In Belgium married couples and registered partners file jointly but they are taxed separately on the same tax bill.
In your tax return, you declare your income. You don't report your wealth. If you have overseas bank accounts or insurance policies, all you do is tick a box. You don't have to give any information about those but that does not mean that the taxman does not get any information.
You don't have to calculate the tax yourself and you don't have to pay the tax immediately or enclose a cheque. This is because most tax is deducted at source; your employer pays your salary net of taxes and social security. And tax is deducted from pensions.
The tax withheld at source will normally cover the tax. However, you still have to declare all your income, and the tax bill will show whether you get any tax back. That may be the case if:
- you have a mortgage,
- you pay your cleaner with titres services / dienstencheques
- you have made some donations,
- you pay alimony or child support,
- you pay childcare,
- or you put some money aside for pension saving,
And if you have any savings, the bank deducts the tax "at source"; you don't have to declare the dividends or interest. However, if you have savings with an overseas bank abroad, you must report the income.
If you file in time, the tax bill will be sent to you a few months later, at the latest on 30 June 2019. You have two months to pay the bill; if the bill shows a reimbursement, that will come two months later as well.
If you want to calculate how much tax you will have to pay, you can calculate the tax anonymously on Taxcalc.
More from our 2018 income tax guide
- When do I need to file my Belgian income tax return?
- Online or on paper?
- Filing online
- Understanding the paper tax return
- Checklist: What documents do you need?
- The return in detail
- Belgian income tax: There's nowhere to hide
- A guide to cross-border taxation
- Belgian income tax returns for families
- Help! Where to get assistance with your tax return
- Understanding your Belgian income tax bill
- How do I appeal?
- This guide was written by Marc Quaghebeur, lawyer and partner at De Broeck, Van Laere & Partners (www.taxation.be). 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.