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Taxing Times – Part two: Filing Online
If you file your tax return online via Tax-on-web, you can file until 15 July, while your accountant or tax adviser can file until 29 October.
Tax-on-web is not something you do lightly or in a hurry. You need an ID reader, your electronic ID card (the one with a chip), and the PIN code you received with your ID card. If you lost your PIN code, contact the commune. Setting up the software for the e-card reader is the most tricky bit.
If you do not have an ID card with a chip, you can register with the Ministry of Finance to identify yourself on Tax-on-web. You will need some identification: your national register number (on the back of your ID card) and the number of your ID card. You will be asked to choose a username and password and by way of confirmation you will receive an email with a link.You then you have 30 days to confirm by clicking on that link.
About ten days later your ‘token’, as they call it, arrives by mail. That is a card with 24 personalised codes with names like GESARU or BISOCU. When you log on to Tax-on-web, or when you sign, you will be asked to identify yourself with, for example, code 13; you then copy the code BISOCU into tax-on-web.
When you log in, open your Taxbox and you will find something that looks like the guide that comes with your paper tax return. On each page you can click and get an online explanation, add a comment or append a PDF file. The help files do not offer much more information than the booklet.
You will see that when the tax authorities already have information, the boxes will be filled out. This is the case for items like the identity of your dependent children, the cadastral income of your house, your salary and the wage withholding tax or your titres services.
What is appealing about Tax-on-web is that you can do it from any computer at any time and you can stop, save and continue when you want. You can take your time filling out your tax return at your own pace. Just do not forget to save the interim versions. This may be useful if you need to double check something.
Keep in mind there are times where everyone wants to file online; these busy days can be found here.
And when you make a mistake, the form will point it out. Not all mistakes are errors, however, and it can be frustrating when you can’t move on.
Another advantage of Tax-on-web is that you don’t need to file all the justification documents that you normally file with your return. You can scan them and send them as a PDF file, but you can just as well keep them at home until the tax authorities ask for them.
Before you sign and finalise your tax return, you can calculate how much tax you will have to pay. It is a rough estimate because it does not take into account complicated issues like cross border workers, overseas income, etc. That calculation is not the tax assessment. That will come later.
Finally, you need to sign the electronic tax return. You do that with your PIN code (if you have an electronic ID card) or with your access code. Spouses and partners who file a joint tax return must log on and sign separately with their PIN code or access code. When both have signed the tax return, you receive a confirmation of the date and time of filing. I would suggest you print it or save a copy. You can always check the summary of your tax return in your Taxbox. It is not a bad idea to save a copy as well.
If you file online, you do not need to send a copy of the confirmation or the PDF summary.
Once the tax return it is filed, you can still correct your tax return online until 15 July. If you need to change anything after that date, you need to contact your local tax office.
When you file your tax return online, you still receive your tax bill, the assessment, on paper. However, you can opt to receive it via Zoomit, a free service offered by most banks via their internet banking to manage (and pay) your invoices more easily. All you need to do is click that you want to receive your bill via Zoomit in MyMinFin. Also in MyMinFin, you can find a copy of your latest returns together with the tax returns you filed online in the past (in PDF format).
Tax-on-web clearly has a lot of advantages, but maybe you are wondering whether you are not making it too easy for the tax authorities. By filing online, you are doing all the work for them, all they needs to do is press the button to send you the bill. Are they not rushing out the demands to pay tax, while they are hanging on to those where they have to reimburse tax? There is no evidence that suggests that. True, it is easier for the tax people, but they still have to check the figures. And so should you when you get the bill.
Marc Quaghebeur is a lawyer and partner at De Broeck, Van Laere & Partners
More information at www.taxation.be