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Working group to investigate how government policies affect single people

A Belgian tax return document. Many single people in Belgium face higher taxes. (BELGA)
10:56 13/10/2020

One in two households in Brussels consists of a single person. Despite this high number, government policy is rarely tailored to this group and single residents often come off poorly, especially when it comes to taxation in Belgium. A working group has now been set up to look into this.

Initially, the discussion paper on people living alone was submitted by Brussels politician Carla De Jonghe in March. However, due to a delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the Finance Committee in the Brussels parliament only got to discuss the paper on Monday. It was then decided that a cross-party working group should be set up in the coming months to analyse the findings detailed in the paper.

Single residents - young people and seniors, people who are just coming out of a relationship, people who are widowed – are a group that is often forgotten in studies, says De Jonghe. Although they have not all necessarily chosen their situation as a single person, she says, they do have very high costs.

A Belgian resident without children is the most heavily taxed category in the whole of Western Europe. A single person without children pays an average of 56% of their gross salary, rising to 60% for larger salaries. Many tax deductions apply per person, so families stand to get more tax relief than single people, the discussion paper explains.

De Jonghe, the founder of the All1 association that advocates for the interests of people living alone, suggests that policymakers should do more to test the impact of policies on single people and not just on the traditional family.

The paper also states that there needs to be more affordable and smaller housing for single people to meet the property demand in Brussels, and calls for a review of the implications of inheritance tax on single people and research into how Brussels could be promoted as a destination for single people considering relocation or travel.

Written by Nick Amies