Registering a gift online
On 1 May 2022, the Federal Ministry of Finance published a step-by-step guide to register a private gift online.
Only gifts of movables
A gift of real property can still not be one online or without passing before a notary.
A gift of movables can be done without a notary with the Finance Ministry by paying gift tax. However, such gift will usually be done with a notary to include the terms and conditions for the gift. An online registration will often be a last-minute solution for a hand-to-hand gift or a bank gift (from one bank account to another) that was made without paying the gift tax.
Indeed, a hand-to-hand gift or a bank gift must not be registered with the Ministry of Finance and gift tax is then not due. However, if the donor dies within three years after making the gift (five years if the donor was living in Wallonia) the beneficiary must pay inheritance tax that will usually be higher than the gift tax they saved.
If the donor suddenly feels the end nearing, he can opt to register the gift. In that case, gift tax will be due but that means that the inheritance tax will not be due. It was already possible to register the gift at the registration office, the bureau de Sécurité juridique/kantoor Rechtszekerheid (in person, upon appointment) or by mail (via the scanning centre), but now it is also possible online, via MyMinfin. It is not possible (yet) for the registration of a gift of movable property before a notary abroad (see ‘Gift tax and the ‘cheese route’’). That must still be done on paper.
Not only the donor and the beneficiary can register the gift, a third party, e.g. a lawyer or a notaire, can do so as well.
They must identify themselves with their electronic id card, an ID-reader and a pin-code, or via Itsme. Itsme is a Belgian app for smartphones that is rapidly taking off for online identification.
To register the gift, they must upload a pdf-file that proves the existence of the gift. That pdf-file must be uploaded via MyMinfin/ Mes interactions / soumettre un document ; then select ‘donation de biens meubles’.
All documents must be combined in a single pdf document. To prove a hand-to-hand gift, it is usual for the donor to send a registered letter announcing his intention to gift and for the beneficiary to send a registered letter thanking the donor for the gift. The dates on these registered letters prove the date of the gift (to determine the beginning of the three/five-year period). Both letters have to be combined into one pdf.
The combined document must clearly show the identity (first name, name and address) and the signatures of the donor and the beneficiary and it must clearly show that that it is meant to be a gift and that the beneficiary has accepted that gift.
The usual form is a scan of the original signed documents, but documents that are signed with a digital signature (using eID) are acceptable as well if the digitally signed document is uploaded.
If the gift does not meet all the conditions for registration, the tax authorities may have further questions. If the gift meets the conditions, the tax bill will be sent via MyMinfin (under "Documents"). If you have activated your e-box, or if you have given your email address, you will receive an email confirming that the tax bill can be found there. You can then pay the gift tax.
If you register the gift by mail, the tax bill comes in the mail and if you register in person at the bureau de Sécurité juridique/kantoor Rechtszekerheid, you can pay immediately by Bancontact, unless the donor lives in Flanders, he has to wait until he receives the tax bill.
If the donor lives in Flanders (or has lived longest in Flanders in the last five years – he will have to indicate that with the gift), the gift that was declared during office hours, will be registered the same day. After office hours, it is only registered the following working day. The Federal bureau will send the registered gift to the Flemish Tax Authorities (in short “Vlabel” for “Vlaamse Belastingadministratie”) who will then send the tax bill.
In Brussels and Wallonia, the gift is only registered after the gift tax has been received by the tax office.
While registering a gift online is quite simple and possible 24/7, the registration is not immediate. If the donor lives in Flanders, it can be done the following day. In Brussels and Wallonia, the gift will not be registered as long as the gift tax has not been paid.
In emergency situations, a possible solution could be to lodge the documents proving the gift in person with the tax office (see above) and pay the gift tax by Bancontact or with a notaire. The notaire draws up a deed noting the lodging and time of lodging. The gift tax is then due to the tax authorities at the time of lodging if the donor was still alive at that time. This can be a way of avoiding the inheritance tax, even if the donor dies before the deed is actually registered.
Registering a gift online is simple and effective 24/7. Unfortunately, without a change of the legislation in Brussels and Wallonia, it is not necessarily an expedient process.