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When do I need to file my Belgian income tax return?

21:30 05/05/2019

The tax return on paper must be filed by 28 June. This means the tax return must hit the letterbox of the scanning centre in Jambes (near Namur) or in Ledeberg (near Ghent) on that day. Don't leave it to the last minute. Putting the tax return in the mail on the 28th may be too late.

If you forgot the deadline, you can file online until 11 July. Plan ahead; Tax-On-Web tends to get overloaded. Based on past experience, the tax office gives a forecast of the busy days.

If you are too late, you can always give a power of attorney to an accountant or tax adviser (that is done online at the latest on 31 August). He can then file online until 24 October. However, on behalf of all accountants and tax advisers, please do not bring your shoebox with your payslips and tax documents on 20 October.

If you aren't living in Belgium, or if you have the expatriate tax status, the paper filing deadline for non-residents is much later, on 8 November (on paper) or, if you or your tax adviser file online, on 5 December.

When do I receive my tax return?

The tax authorities must send your tax return to you five weeks before the deadline. They are being sent out between 7 and 24 May. Tax-On-Web can be accessed from 2 May. Non-residents will only be able to access Tax-On-Web from the middle of September.

It's 1 June and I haven't received my tax return yet

If you filed your tax return online last year, that is normal. Once you file online, the tax authorities assume that you want to continue filing online and they do not send you a paper tax return anymore. In the past you could ask to receive a paper tax return again the following year, as a sort of reminder. The tax authorities do not send them anymore; that saves on postage.

If you want a paper tax return or if you have not received your tax return yet, you have to contact your local tax office and ask them to send you a form. If you have difficulties locating your tax office, check p. 2 of last year's tax bill (under ‘Calcul’, check the website of the Finance Ministry or call 0257 257 57. This is a call centre that answers most tax questions.)

This is also where you should go if you lost or misplaced your tax return. Do not use a photocopy of a friend’s tax return; that would only get you both in trouble.

We received a tax bill instead of a tax return

For many people, the tax authorities already have all the information that they would put in their tax return. To make life easier for retirees, people with an invalidity or unemployment allowance, or students over 18 who have some limited income, instead of a tax return, they send them a letter with a provisional tax bill calculating how much tax they will have to pay based on the information the taxman already has. About a million taxpayers will receive a "proposal of a simplified tax return" (see model in Dutch / French / German).

All you need to do is check whether the information is correct; if so, the definitive tax bill will come quite soon. If there is something missing, you have to report that by 28 June (or online before 11 July). What the taxman does not know is that you have overseas bank accounts or insurance policies or that you receive maintenance. Since this year, you may have to pay the tax on securities accounts or you may want to recover some withholding tax on dividends.

Unlike last year, the tax authorities do not send this provisional tax bill by mail anymore. You need to check it online.

I am late

If you forget to file (or to sign online), you risk a penalty between €50 and €1,250 and a tax increase of 10% to 200%. The highest penalties are is really for persistent repeat offenders. What is more important is that the taxman can just ignore your tax return when he assesses the tax.

More from our 2019 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, lawyer and partner at Cabinet DAVID (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.