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Tax for Crossborder Workers (Covid)

Question

I changed jobs at the start of the year, employed by a UK company in London but maintained residency in Belgium as I have a house here where my family also stays. Under normal circumstances, I do a weekly commute, BRU-LDN Eurostar Mon mornings returning on Thur / Fri.

I have not been able to travel since March due to the lockdown as well as the closure of our office hence I have been working from home (Belgium). Belgium has reached an agreement with countries immediately around its borders to exempt any of its residents employed in those countries from being taxed in Belgium as they work from home during this period. However, there isn't such an agreement with the UK, Spain, Italy, etc. From what I have read, I will now be expected to pay Belgian taxes as I will soon be exceeding 183 days spent in Belgium this year.

Our office will re-open for staff to return on a voluntary basis on Sep 1 (1% of staff have opted to return) so I may try to commence my commute to avoid a huge tax bill. I will be speaking to the Tax Manager from my workplace next week to find the best possible solution. In the meantime, does anyone have any guidance they can share?

Many thanks

becasse

You can't commute to your office in the UK on a weekly basis as you will be subject to quarantine there.
Incidentally, have you considered your position wef from 1 January when I suspect that you may find that you are no longer entitled to Belgian residency. From that a point of view, being considered "properly" resident in Belgium this year may be an advantage.

Aug 14, 2020 15:03
wezembeekwanderer

You don’t mention the nationality of you or your family or your residency status. I think Becasse has offered some sensible advice. The current situation is so unusual. Your company must be quite large if it has a tax manager, best place to start and hopefully they will use one of the specialist consultants to sort it out. Good luck.

Aug 15, 2020 00:57
stevey7

Hi there, thanks for your responses. My family and I got Belgian nationality 4 years ago. As I still pay communal tax (precompute immobilizer), I assumed that I hadn't lost my residency.

Aug 17, 2020 07:00
becasse

At least having Belgian nationality removes a major future uncertainty about your situation but it does introduce a presumption of residence in Belgium unless you are registered with the local Belgian embassy as living outside Belgium. At the moment you have been receiving some Belgian tax relief (you still have to pay the local tax element, so it has to be declared to the Belgian fisc) on the income you earned in the UK simply because it was earned IN the UK AND taxed there. My personal view is that the 183 days issue is a red herring, in the current situation and in the absence of an emergency bilateral agreement, you are earning from work performed in Belgium and that is taxable in Belgium (but not in the UK). The fact that emergency bilaterals were agreed with the immediate neighbouring countries would suggest that that is the view of the Belgian authorities too.

Aug 17, 2020 09:56
stevey7

Yes that's my fear, one would've thought that in such a situation common sense would prevail since we've literally been stuck at home, more like force majeure. It's a tricky area, I just read some material on the OECD. They are recommending countries to work together to ensure that both employers & employees are not inconvenienced. It seems that Benelux, Germany & France have decided to stick together because of the higher volumes of crossborder workers within their states. Many thanks

Aug 17, 2020 12:05
anon

Agree with BECASSE above, however, this could be to your advantage as the it's possible that only the work you did since March will be in your 2020 tax year in Belgium. i.e. assuming nothing else changes, and you aren't working in the U.K., for your 2020 tax return, in Belgium, you'll only have to file 9 months of income. Additionally, when you restart working in the U.K., in the 2020/2021 tax year you'll also have significantly less than 12 months of income to declare there. It may make sense to speak with an accountant to be sure that you can take advantage of the personal tax allowance in both locations given that your movements will straddle two tax years.

Aug 17, 2020 18:52
gronman

@stevey7
Wondering if you received any advice from your company's tax specialist? I'm in a similar situation to yourself - paying UK taxes on a job normally carried out (partly) in the UK.

Sep 14, 2020 13:06