Belgium’s Tax Reform Blueprint: The Devil Is in the Details

22 August 2022

On July 18 Belgian Finance Minister Vincent van Peteghem published a report with a blueprint for major tax reform. The blueprint lays out the minister’s proposals for a lower-rate, fairer, and more modern tax system.

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Belgium Replaces Expatriate Tax Regime with Impatriate Tax Regime

4 April 2022

Belgium phases out the Expatriate Tax Regime and introduces a new Impatriate Tax Regime. The new impatriate tax regime aims to provide taxpayers with more certainty, but does not compare to the old regime.

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Belgium Requests CJEU Ruling on Write-Down of Shares

27 September 2021

On June 25 the Belgian Supreme Court issued a decision requesting a preliminary ruling from the Court of Justice of the European Union on the compatibility of the Belgian tax rules with the freedom of establishment.

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Belgian Court Expands Foreign Inheritance Tax Credit

9 August 2021

In a remarkable decision dated June 3, the Belgian Constitutional Court decided that the foreign tax credit for inheritance taxes paid abroad cannot be limited to the inheritance tax on real property.

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Double Taxation of French Dividends in Belgium: A Light at the End of the Tunnel?

5 July 2021

For years, taxpayers have been exploring various venues and trying to find the winning argument that will force Belgium to provide a foreign tax credit that will offset the French tax on dividends — and the Belgian tax authorities have been fighting tooth and nail to stop them.

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Belgium Attempts to Tax Securities Accounts (Again)

17 May 2021

For years, taxpayers have been exploring various venues and trying to find the winning argument that will force Belgium to provide a foreign tax credit that will offset the French tax on dividends — and the Belgian tax authorities have been fighting tooth and nail to stop them.

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The Belgian Constitutional Court Annuls the Tax on Securities Accounts

9 December 2019

On October 17 the Belgian Constitutional Court (Cour constitutionnelle) ruled that the tax on securities accounts is unconstitutional (Decision 138/2019). For budgetary reasons the court did not make the decision retroactive. Taxpayers therefore must pay the tax for 2018 and 2019.

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Belgium’s Cayman Tax: An Update and a Word of Caution

14 October 2019

In 2015 Belgium introduced legislation to allow its tax authorities to look through some legal arrangements (such as trusts and legal entities) in tax havens. These rules became known as the “Cayman tax.” While the name references the island nation, one is also reminded of the homophone caiman: a crocodilian with fearsome teeth

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Belgium and Luxembourg Consider Physical Presence Change in Double Tax Treaty

30 September 2019

On May 16 the Prime Ministers of Luxembourg and Belgium, Xavier Bettel and Charles Michel, agreed to reopen negotiations on the Belgium-Luxembourg double tax treaty provision addressing the taxation of individuals living in one country and working in the other.

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Are Pension Funds Supplanting Tax Competition in Belgium?

24 September 2018

Recent articles in Belgium’s sister business papers De Tijd and L’Echo reported that the treasury centers and financing companies of some multinationals were decamping to Ireland, Luxembourg, or Switzerland. Has Belgium lost its position among the most tax competitive countries?

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Belgium Publishes Decree on Ultimate Beneficial Owner Register

6 September 2018

After the EU’s fourth anti-money-laundering (AML) directive, (EU) 2015/849, was adopted on June 25, 2015, EU member states had a two-year time frame to comply with the directive, to introduce new “know your customer” (KYC) rules and rules to determine money-laundering risk, and to set up a national beneficial owner register by June 26, 2017.

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Belgian Government Proposes VAT Regime for Real Estate Rentals

11 April 2018

Belgium is one of the last EU member states to use its right to exempt the leasing or letting of immovable property from VAT (article 137 (1) (d) of Directive 2006/112/EC).

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Belgian Constitutional Court Writes Obituary for Fairness Tax

7 March 2018

The Belgian Constitutional Court has annulled the so-called fairness tax, abiding by a judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union, from which the Constitutional Court had sought a preliminary ruling. However, contrary to what most observers had hoped, the Constitutional Court’s March 1 ruling does not cancel the tax retroactively, except in one specific situation.

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Belgium Introduces Wealth Tax on Securities Accounts

7 March 2018

The Belgian Parliament on February 1 adopted a law introducing an annual 0.15 percent tax on financial instruments held in securities accounts valued over €500,000 that will in effect be a wealth tax.

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Belgian VAT Authorities Take Careful Step Toward Substance Over Form

31 October 2017

In a carefully worded practice note dated October 12, the Belgian VAT authorities have announced that they are relaxing their strict adherence to the form-over-substance approach regarding the conditions for the deduction of the input VAT paid on invoices received (Practice Note 2017/C/64 relating to the invoice as a condition for the exercise of the right to deduct VAT).

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The Evolution of the Voluntary Disclosure Regime In Belgium’s Federal System

16 October 2017

In 2015 Belgium’s federal government decided to give taxpayers (another) last chance to regularize unpaid taxes and social security contributions. The law introducing a new, permanent voluntary disclosure regime for tax and social security matters, dated July 21, 2016, entered into force on August 1, 2016.

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Belgian Supreme Court Upholds Tax Treaty Precedence Over Domestic Law

4 August 2017

The Belgian Supreme Court recently confirmed that Belgian tax authorities cannot hide behind the text of the domestic law to deny Belgian taxpayers the benefit of the Belgium-France tax treaty.

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Belgium Restricts the VAT Exemption for the Settlement of Insurance Claims

21 June 2017

The Belgian tax authorities have announced that they will be adapting their position on the VAT exemption for insurance claims settlement services in accordance with the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union. The new position was announced in Practice Note 2017/C/36, dated June 12.

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Tax Measures in Belgium's 2017 Budget Law Unveiled

27 January 2017

The Belgian government recently published in the State Gazette the Act of December 25, 2016, which implements the 2017 budget along the lines announced at the time of the budget discussions in October 2016.

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'20 Percent for 2020': A Scenario for Belgium's Corporate Tax Reform

19 October 2016

In this article, the author discusses the various measures that are included in Belgian Finance Minister Johan Van Overtveldt's proposal for corporate income tax reform.

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Belgium Introduces a Tax Regime for the Sharing Economy

11 September 2016

Belgium's Programme Law of July 1, 2016, sets up a framework for taxing income received from the sharing economy, consisting of an advantageous (but limited) tax regime for individual service providers who operate through a digital platform and tax withholding at source by the digital platform.

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Belgium Abolishes Patent Box, Introduces Innovation Box

15 August 2016

Apart from the correction of a piece of legislation introduced at the end of last year (following Tate & Lyle, prior coverage), Belgium's recently published Act of August 3, 2016, deals mainly with the abolition of the patent box, which provides an 80 percent deduction of patent income related to the development or enhancement of patents.

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Belgian Diamond Regime to Begin in 2017

12 August 2016

Belgium's controversial diamond regime, which the European Commission announced was in line with state aid rules, will enter into force for tax year 2017.

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Belgian Programme Law Introduces New Tax Measures

13 July 2016

Belgium's Programme Law of July 1 introduced a number of fiscal measures, including transfer pricing documentation in line with action 13 of the OECD's base erosion and profit-shifting project and measures to combat tax fraud.

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Belgium Updates Tax Haven Lists

15 March 2016

Belgian Minister of Finance Johan Van Overtveldt has updated -- by way of royal decrees published in the official gazette on March 10 and 11 -- two lists of countries that are deemed to have advantageous tax regimes.

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Belgium Adopts New Tax Measures to Comply With EU Law

13 January 2016

Belgium's Act of December 18, 2015, is a mixed bag of tax measures that correct administrative issues, ratify royal decrees, etc. However, the law also contains some significant changes to bring Belgian law in line with European law as established by the Court of Justice of the European Union.

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Belgium Publishes FATCA Law

12 January 2016

Belgian Law No. 16, dated December 16, 2015, and published in the official gazette on December 31, 2015, introduces rules that enable Belgium to comply with various instruments subscribed by the government to comply with its obligations.

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Belgium Changes VAT Rules

21 December 2015

Belgium's official gazette on December 17 published a number of small topical laws, all dated December 6, that amend various VAT rules. These are the first of a number of tax laws that will be coming into force.

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Belgium Requires Reporting of Payments to 4 Noncompliant Jurisdictions

23 September 2015

Belgian tax authorities on September 3 published an addendum to practice note Ci.RH.421/607.890 (AAFisc nr. 64/2010), commenting on the list of states that have not "effectively" or "substantially" implemented the OECD standard on the exchange of information.

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Belgium Acquiesces to EU Commission's Opinion

22 September 2015

Belgian tax authorities on September 11 published an addendum to Practice Note Ci.RH.331/575.420 (AOIF 8/2008) regarding the granting of benefits linked to a taxpayer's personal or family situation.

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Belgian Lower House Approves New Tax Measures

7 August 2015

Belgium's Chamber of Representatives on July 24 adopted a program law proposed by the federal government to address various tax measures following the budget review at the end of March. The program law, which was submitted to the Parliament with the budget and contains provisions to enact the budget measures, should be published in the official gazette in the coming weeks.

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Belgian Government Reaches Agreement on Budget, €7.2 Billion 'Tax Shift'

27 July 2015

In the early hours of July 23, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel announced that his government has reached an agreement on the 2015-2016 budget and, equally important, on a €7.2 billion "tax shift."

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Belgium Publishes Draft FATCA Guidelines

13 May 2015

The Belgian tax administration on May 4 released a draft of its guidelines for compliance with the U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act ( On April 23 Belgium and the U.S. signed an intergovernmental agreement that calls for the Belgian Ministry of Finance to transfer data to the IRS, as required by FATCA.

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Catering Costs Eligible for VAT Refund, Belgian Authorities Concede

2 April 2015

The Belgian VAT authorities on March 13 issued a decision1 in which they agreed to follow the Supreme Court case law regarding the deduction of VAT on catering costs.

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Belgium and Luxembourg Relax Tax Rules for Cross- Border Workers

19 March 2015

The finance ministers of Belgium and Luxembourg on March 16 signed a mutual agreement introducing, with effect from 2015, a tolerance threshold of 24 days for the taxation of cross-border workers. In other words, if the cross-border worker does not spend 25 days or more outside the state where he usually works, that state will still be able tax his remuneration.

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Belgian Constitutional Court Turns to Tax Matters

12 February 2015

In the first weeks of 2015, Belgium's Constitutional Court rendered three important decisions that affect tax laws. The cases and their outcomes are summarized below.

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Double Taxation of French Dividends -- Discrimination From the French Point of View

17 December 2014

After years of unsuccessful litigation before the European Court of Justice, the French Conseil d'Etat may give Belgian residents who receive dividends from a French company some relief for double taxation.

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News Analysis: Luxembourg Leaks Light Short Fuse in Belgium

12 November 2014

The revelation on November 5 of the "Lux leaks" -- copies of leaked papers detailing questionable advance pricing agreements with the Luxembourg government, some of which benefited Belgian companies and wealthy families -- could not have come at a more inappropriate time in Belgium.

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Belgian Tax on Conversion of Bearer Shares Violates EU Law

28 October 2014

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on October 9 issued a judgment in Gielen v. Belgium (C-299/13) , holding that Belgium's tax on the conversion of bearer securities is in violation of Directive 2008/7/EC concerning indirect taxes on the raising of capital.

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New Belgian Government Announces Tax Plans

16 October 2014

Belgium's new center-right coalition government led by Prime Minister Charles Michel on October 9 announced tax measures in its coalition agreement, including a "look-through tax" on trusts and foundations, an expansion of the VAT, changes to the corporate and individual tax systems, and a restriction of the "catch-all" provision for taxing income of nonresidents.

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Belgium Widens Scope of Reporting Rule for Payments to Tax Havens

6 March 2014

Belgium has extended its reporting regime for payments to tax havens to include four jurisdictions -- the British Virgin Islands, Cyprus, Luxembourg, and the Seychelles -- rated as noncompliant in the OECD's November 2013 progress report on transparency and exchange of information

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Foreign Tax Credit Rules Unconstitutional, Belgian Court Holds

6 February 2014

Belgium's Constitutional Court on January 29 held that Belgium's foreign tax credit rules are unconstitutional because the requirement to add an FTC to a company's taxable profits even if only part of the credit can be used discriminates against loss-making companies (Case 14/2014).

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European Commission Examining Belgian Ruling Practice

4 February 2014

The European Commission has sent an inquiry to the Belgian Service for Advance Decisions (the ruling committee) in connection with an investigation into whether its rulings constitute unauthorized state aid, the Belgian business newspapers De Tijd and L'Echo announced on January 31.

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ECJ Finds Belgian Pension Savings Scheme in Violation of EU Law

27 January 2014

The European Court of Justice on January 23 handed down its judgment in European Commission v. Kingdom of Belgium (C-296/12) , holding that Belgium's refusal to grant a pension tax credit for contributions to pension funds managed by financial institutions in other member states is in violation of article 56 (freedom to provide services) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).

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Belgium Ends 2013 With Flurry of Tax Amendments

8 January 2014

Several new Belgian tax laws were published in the last official gazette of 2013.

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News Analysis: Judgment by European Court of Justice Preserves Belgium's Tax Haven Status

18 October 2013

EU Advocate General Paulo Mengozzi was expected to submit his opinion in Belgium v. GIMLE SA (C-322/12) on October 3. Instead, the European Court of Justice handed down a judgment that may end a long-running discussion between Belgian taxpayers and the Belgian tax administration, and that preserves Belgium's status as a tax haven.

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Belgian Government Steps Up Fight Against Tax Fraud

26 July 2013

Belgium has published in the official gazette the Act of July 15, 2013, which introduces the concept of "serious tax fraud" in Belgian law and contains urgent provisions to prevent it.

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Belgian Taxpayers Must Disclose Trusts and Offshore Entities

23 July 2013

Belgium's lower house of Parliament on July 17 adopted a bill requiring resident individuals to declare whether they, their spouse, or their minor children are the founder of a "legal arrangement" or are aware that they are, in any way or at any time, the beneficiary or potential beneficiary of a legal arrangement.

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Belgium Rushes New Tax Measures Through Parliament

23 July 2013

The lower house of the Belgian parliament on July 17 adopted a bill that would impose an alternative minimum tax on large companies that pay out dividends but do not pay any corporate tax, end the VAT exemption for legal services, and amend the tax treatment of Belgian investment companies to better comply with European law.

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Belgium Enacts New Tax Measures

22 July 2013

Belgium recently published in the official gazette the Act of June 17, 2013, and the Program Law of June 28, 2013, which together introduce fiscal and financial measures affecting company income tax, personal income tax, withholding tax, VAT, registration tax, excise duties, and tax procedural matters.

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Belgian Method of Imputing German National's Income Violates EU Treaty, Advocate General Says

24 June 2013

Advocate General Cruz Villalón of the European Court of Justice on June 13 issued his opinion in Guido Imfeld, Nathalie Garcet v. Belgium (C-303/12), finding that Belgium's method for imputing earnings that are tax exempt in another member state, and for granting tax advantages for dependent children, is incompatible with the EU freedom of establishment.

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Belgian Government Reaches Agreement on Budget - Balancing Tax Measures

9 April 2013

The Belgian government recently reached an agreement on new fiscal measures needed to balance the budget for 2013. The more notable measures include a new withholding tax for liquidations and a reduced withholding tax rate for small and medium-size enterprises, as well as a significant increase of the registration fee for long-term leases and leaseholds.

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Belgian Tax Authorities Explain Consequences of ECJ Judgment

9 April 2013

Belgian tax authorities on March 4 published Practice Note Ci.RH.233/623.711 on the tax consequences of the European Court of Justice's October 25, 2012, judgment in Commission v. Belgium (C-387/11).

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News Analysis: A Tale of 2 Belgian Tax Rulings

21 March 2013

The Belgian Constitutional Court recently upheld a 2011 law allowing tax authorities easier access to bank account details, ruling that the law contains adequate safeguards against the arbitrary breach of privacy rights.

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ECJ Examines, for the Third Time, Belgian Tax Treatment of French Dividends

18 March 2013

On September 19, 2012, the European Court of Justice handed down an order in Daniel Levy and Carine Sebbag v. Belgian State, SPF Finances (C-540/11). The order came at the request of the Brussels Court of First Instance for a preliminary ruling on October 25, 2011.

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News Analysis: Changes to the Belgium-U.K. Tax Treaty

22 January 2013

The 2009 protocol to the 1987 income tax treaty between Belgium and the United Kingdom entered into force on December 24, amending a number of provisions that will affect individual and corporate taxpayers.

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Belgium, 2012: The year in review

26 December 2012

A constant factor in Belgian politics is the need for compromise. After the June 2010 national elections, it took 540 days of negotiations to form a government and agree on a budget.

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Belgium Implements EU VAT Directives

26 December 2012

Belgium on December 21 published in its official gazette two laws1 implementing EU VAT directives governing invoicing and the place of supply in connection with the long-term hiring of means of transport. The new rules will become effective on January 1, 2013.

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Belgium to Amend Corporate and Personal Tax Regimes in 2013

19 December 2012

Two pieces of tax legislation scheduled for enactment this month will make some significant changes to Belgium's corporate and personal income tax regimes in 2013.

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Belgium Revises Penalty System for Tax Offenses

24 October 2012

An act that introduces an "una via" system for tax offenses and increases criminal penalties in tax matters was published in Belgium's official gazette on October 22.

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Switzerland Proposes Rubik Agreement With Belgium

12 September 2012

Belgian Foreign Office Minister Didier Reynders and Swiss Finance Minister and acting President Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf on September 4 discussed a Swiss proposal for a bilateral withholding tax agreement to deal with undeclared assets held in Swiss banks by Belgians and to settle long-standing tax issues.

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News Analysis: Controversy Over Belgian Finance Ministry's Taxpayer Database

11 September 2012

A recently published act on the creation of a Ministry of Finance central database has drawn controversy because of a rule that bars a taxpayer from looking at his personal data if he is the subject of a tax audit or investigation or one is being prepared.

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More Guidance on Belgium's General Antiabuse Rule

10 September 2012

The Belgian program law of March 29, 2012, 1 has replaced the general antiavoidance rule by an antiabuse rule. The GAAR was introduced in the income tax, registration tax, and inheritance tax codes in 1993 but had proven ineffective. The new rule must combat abuses of tax avoidance schemes, but even after Finance Minister Steven Vanackere published a first practice note, there was a demand for some examples of transactions that the tax authorities considered abusive tax avoidance.

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Belgium Amends Pension Regime, Thin Capitalization Rule

31 July 2012

The Belgian State Gazette on June 28 published a June 22 program law containing various direct and indirect tax measures. The bill amends Belgium's new thin capitalization rule and the tax regime for pension contributions and pension income.

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Can Belgium Negotiate New Income Tax Treaties?

16 April 2012

Because of its position on bank secrecy rules, Belgium found itself on the OECD gray list of tax havens in 2009. Finance Minister Didier Reynders announced that Belgium would raise the level of information exchange and that his department would start negotiations with its foreign counterparts.

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Belgium Enacts Budget Tax Bills

1 February 2012

Barely three weeks after Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo was sworn in, the Belgian Parliament on December 28 adopted two bills implementing some of the tax measures announced in the 2012 budget. The bills were signed into law by King Albert II and published in the Belgian State Gazette on December 30.

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Antwerp Court Seeks Preliminary Ruling on Belgian Participation Exemption

2 January 2012

The Antwerp Court of Appeal on November 22 requested a preliminary ruling from the Constitutional Court on whether Belgium's tax regime for dividends received by a Belgian company -- and in particular the limited carryforward of the unused surplus -- is constitutional.

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Belgium: 2011 Year in Review

20 December 2011

Belgium had no government for most of 2011. For over 520 days, Prime Minister Yves Leterme was in charge while negotiations for a new government continued, during which his caretaker government put forward little in the way of legislative initiatives.

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News Analysis: The Belgian Budget Process and Its Tax Implications

14 December 2011

On December 6, Belgium's King Albert II swore in Elio Di Rupo's government, 541 days after the elections of June 13, 2010.

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News Analysis: Belgian Politics and the 2012 Budget

1 December 2011

Belgian Socialist Party leader Elio Di Rupo, who is in charge of forming a new government, announced on November 27 that he has clinched the 2012 budget.

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Belgium Updates Capital Gains, Bank Secrecy Rules

16 November 2011

The Belgian State Gazette on November 10 published the law of November 7, 2011, which updates rules relating to the taxation of capital gains on fixed assets, bank secrecy, and wage withholding tax.

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Belgian Power Company Continues Fight Against Nuclear Tax

27 September 2011

Earlier this month, Electrabel, Belgium's main provider of electricity and the second largest supplier of gas, announced that it would commence proceedings before the court of first instance to reclaim the nuclear tax it paid in 2008, 2009, and 2010. It is not clear on what basis the company will reclaim the taxes, as the legality of the tax has been confirmed.

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Belgium's Taxation of Capital Gains

8 August 2011

One reason for Belgium's popularity in international tax-planning structures is the absence of capital gains tax for individuals. Belgium does not have a wealth tax, either, so that makes the country attractive for wealthy individuals.

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News Analysis: Belgian Official Puts Reforms on Table

6 July 2011

At a July 4 news conference in the Belgian Parliament, Walloon Socialist Party leader Elio Di Rupo, recently appointed by King Albert II to lead the formation of a coalition government, announced a five-pronged reform package that includes numerous new tax proposals.

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News Analysis: New Developments for Belgium's Dividends Received Deduction

9 March 2011

The Antwerp Court of Appeal recently rejected a Belgian company's claim that the participation exemption (the Belgian dividends received deduction) conflicts with the EU parent-subsidiary directive.

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Belgium: 2010 Year in Review

22 December 2010

2010 was another election year in Belgium. After three years of discussion and stalemates, Prime Minister Yves Leterme was unable to push through the state reform he had promised. His government fell again, and new elections were held June 13.

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Belgium Strengthens Cooperation Between Ruling Committee and Tax Administration

21 December 2010

After months of uncertainty regarding the body's future, Belgium has reappointed the members of its Ruling Committee (the authority for advance rulings) subject to a protocol strengthening cooperation between the committee and the Central Tax Administration.

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Belgium Clarifies Tax Treatment of Dredge Workers

4 November 2010

The Belgian tax authorities on October 26 published a practice note (Ci.R9. Div. 607/317) clarifying the tax regime for employees working aboard dredgers.

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Belgium Extends Deadline for 2009 VAT Refund Applications

21 October 2010

Belgian VAT authorities on October 13 issued a press release announcing the extension from September 30, 2009, to March 31, 2011, of the submission deadline for VAT refund requests for 2009 expenses.

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Belgian Supreme Court Clarifies Tax Year for Nonresidents

7 September 2010

In a May 20 decision, the Belgian Supreme Court clarified the grounds of taxation for nonresidents. The decision has not yet been published.

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Belgium Publishes List of Tax Havens

17 May 2010

Belgium on May 12 published a May 6 royal decree listing the jurisdictions recognized as tax havens in conjunction with the new reporting requirement that entered into force on January 1.

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News Analysis: Belgium's De Facto Position on the Taxation of Trusts

7 May 2010

Late last year, the Belgian Ruling Committee (the authority for advance rulings) issued three rulings relating to the tax treatment of payments made by a trust to a beneficiary during the life of the settlor. Those rulings, which have just been published on the committee's website, offer insights into the position of tax authorities in a country that does not have a trust concept.

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Belgium Relaxes Its Bank Secrecy Rules

3 May 2010

Until recently, Belgium was one of the few countries that did not participate in the international exchange of bank account data. The Belgian tax authorities took the position that the domestic provisions governing bank secrecy (article 318 of the Income Tax Code (1992)) prevented them from investigating the bank details of non-Belgian nonresidents at the request of another tax administration.

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Belgian Government Establishes Tax Mediation Department

30 October 2007

In 2007, Belgium introduced a mediation procedure allowing taxpayers to submit their disputes with the federal tax authorities. It is hoped that the tax mediation department will improve the statistics on the number of cases taken to court.

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Belgium: 2006 Year in Review

4 January 2007

In 2006 Belgium's most significant tax developments involved coordination centers, the capital risk deduction, dividend taxation, pension funds, expatriate taxation, stock options, tax treaties, VAT, and a tax amnesty.

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Belgian Government Announces 2007 Budget Tax Measures

31 October 2006

In his October 17 State of the Union address in the Chamber of Deputies (the lower house of Parliament), Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt presented the federal government's policy statement and outlined new tax measures proposed for the 2007 budget. The policy document and 2007 budget have been officially endorsed by the Cabinet. The government is now preparing the texts, which are expected to be submitted to Parliament in early November.

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Belgium Modifies Tax Procedures

21 August 2006

Belgium's recent Program Law has not only modified the antiavoidance rule for VAT matters (for prior coverage, see Tax Notes Int'l, Aug. 7, 2006, p. 449, 2006 WTD 149-1 , or Doc 2006-14566), but has also modified the country's tax assessment procedures and introduced new measures to combat tax evasion.

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Belgium Rewrites Antiavoidance Rule

3 August 2006

Belgium has passed a law that modifies its antiavoidance rule for VAT matters. The Belgian Parliament adopted a general antiavoidance rule for VAT at the end of 2005. A Program Law dated July 20 (published July 28), completely rewrites the VAT antiavoidance rule in light of recent European Court of Justice judgments.

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Belgium’s Permanent Regularization Procedure: The 2004 Tax Amnesty Redux?

14 June 2006

Belgium has introduced a new procedure for regularizing undeclared or untaxed income that is reminiscent of its 2004 tax amnesty, which was only partially successful.

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Capital Gains on Shareholdings: Developments in Belgium

19 April 2006

One of Belgium's major selling points for many years was the absence of a capital gains tax for individuals. It does not have a wealth tax either. Therefore, Belgium was very attractive for wealthy individuals. Belgium's reputation as a harbor for tax exiles has been seriously dented in recent years, but things are looking better.

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Belgian Supreme Court Limits Use of Antiavoidance Rule

22 December 2005

In 1993 Belgium introduced a general antiavoidance rule in its Income Tax Code (ITC 1992), Inheritance Tax Code (IHTC), and Registration Tax Code (Reg. TC). Although the government is asking the Parliament to introduce a similar rule in the VAT Code, the Supreme Court on November 4 overturned a decision by the Liège Court of Appeal, possibly leaving no future for the antiavoidance rule.

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Authorities Clarify Gift and Inheritance Tax Rules for Trusts

14 November 2005

In late 2004, Belgian tax authorities clarified their position on the gift tax and inheritance tax liability of discretionary trusts. The summary of that decision (Decision E.E./100.383, Dec. 20, 2004) was published recently on the Finance Ministry's Web site (

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Government Expands Special Regime for Employers of Researchers

14 October 2005

Belgium has extended its special tax regime for employers of researchers to include partnerships between private-sector enterprises and universities and scientific institutions.

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Government Announces Budget, Tax Proposals

13 October 2005

Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt on October 11 presented the federal government's policy statement to Parliament. The presentation was part of his State of the Union address in the Chamber of Deputies (the lower house of Parliament). The policy document and 2006 budget have been officially endorsed by Verhofstadt's Cabinet.

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Belgium asks France to Revise Tax Treaty

14 September 2005

During a meeting of finance ministers the weekend of September 10 in Manchester, England, Belgium Finance Minister H.E. Didier Reynders and his French counterpart, Thierry Breton, agreed to examine whether to revise the current income tax treaty between the two countries. The Belgium-France income tax treaty was signed on March 10, 1964, and was amended by a protocol signed February 15, 1971.

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Reynders Proposes Change to New Risk Capital Deduction

13 September 2005

In an interview with the newspaper l'Echo de la Bourse the week of September 5, Belgian Finance Minister Didier Reynders announced his intention to abandon one of the conditions of the new tax deduction for risk capital that is scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2006.

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Reynders Initiates Consultation on Investment Fund Legislation

22 July 2005

In 2003, Belgium introduced a new tax-beneficial investment vehicle, the private PRICAF (The Private PRICAF Act of April 22, 2003, Royal Decree of May 15, 2003), as an alternative to the listed PRICAF. (For prior coverage, see Tax Notes Int'l, June 23, 2003, p. 1184, 2003 WTD 117-10 , or Doc 2003-14645). Two years later, the private PRICAF has not been as successful as expected, with only two such investment funds having been approved. Consequently, Finance Minister Didier Reynders has now started a round of consultation to revise the private PRICAF legislation.

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Decree Extends Withholding Tax Exemption to Foreign Banks

18 July 2005

In a royal decree issued July 3, Belgium has granted foreign banks the same exemption from withholding tax as Belgian banks. It is of particular interest to British, French, and U.S. banks, as they now can recover tax that has been withheld during the past two years.

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Court Seeks ECJ Ruling on Scope of Money-Laundering Directive

15 July 2005

On a July 13 decision (case 126/2005, not yet published), Belgium's Court of Arbitration has asked the European Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling concerning the compatibility of the extension of the EU money-laundering directive to lawyers with the fundamental right to a fair trial.

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Belgian Equity Financing Measure Moves Forward

10 June 2005

Belgium's House of Representatives on June 2 adopted a bill that would make investments in equity significantly more attractive. The Senate is not expected to ask to reexamine the bill, so it is possible that King Albert could sign it into law in the coming weeks, well in time for its proposed entry into force.

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Supreme Court Defines VAT-Recoverable Promotion Expenses

19 May 2005

In an April 8 decision, the Belgian Supreme Court settled a long-running debate over the distinction between business entertainment expenses and business promotion expenses.

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Belgium Clarifies Repatriation Issues in Hong Kong Treaty

8 April 2005

In a March 31 administrative note, the Belgian Ministry of Finance has clarified some issues in the Belgium-Hong Kong double tax treaty that are relevant for the repatriation of profits to Belgium.

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Belgium Finalizes Plans for Risk Capital Deduction

9 March 2005

Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt and Finance Minister Didier Reynders on March 4 announced that the government has finalized its plans to introduce a fictitious, or notional, interest deduction to encourage companies to self-finance their investments and to strengthen their capital structure.

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Belgium Exempts Profit Participations From French Property Investment Partnership

28 February 2005

Belgium's highest court, the Cour de Cassation, has confirmed that dividends paid out by a French société civile immobilière (SCI, or property investment partnership) are not subject to Belgian income tax.

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ECJ to Examine Belgian Tax Treatment of Inbound Dividends

24 February 2005

The Ghent Court of First Instance has sought a preliminary decision from the European Court of Justice on whether Belgium's tax regime for inbound dividends is compatible with EU law.

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Belgian Prime Minister Woos Multinationals With New Tax Regime

29 December 2004

After the last Belgian ministerial meeting of 2004, Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt announced on December 23 that the government has agreed to the principle of a "notional interest deduction" system. The Belgian government wants to use this new regime as a valid alternative that could convince multinationals groups to maintain the activities of their Belgian coordination centers.

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Belgian Court Upholds Constitutionality of Antiavoidance Rule

2 December 2004

Article 344, section 1 of the Belgian Income Tax Code is a general antiavoidance rule introduced in 1993 to give tax authorities more latitude to disregard certain transactions that are set up solely to avoid taxation. In its decision of November 24 (in case 188/2004), Belgium's Court of Arbitration rejected a claim that the provision violates the constitutional principle of no taxation without representation.

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Belgium Adopts Tobin Tax

22 November 2004

The Belgian parliament has approved a law introducing a tax on the exchange of foreign currency, bank notes, and coins. The Chamber of Representatives adopted the bill on July 15, and the Senate has not used its right to review it.

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Belgian Prosecutor Takes Aim at Cash Company Tax Avoidance Schemes

29 October 2004

The Antwerp public prosecutor's office on October 19 announced that it has started an investigation into a "cash company" tax avoidance scheme allegedly set up by the owner of Belgian electrical retailer Hugo Van Praag to avoid the payment of €10.41 million in corporate income taxes.

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Belgian Prime Minister Announces New Tax Measures

18 October 2004

Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt on October 12 gave his State of the Union address in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of the Parliament. Several new taxes to be introduced in 2005 are expected to yield substantial funds for the government coffers.

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New Developments in the Treatment of Trusts in Belgium

29 September 2004

Belgium's Parliament adopted a law introducing a private international law code (code) in the Belgian legal system on July 16, 2004. The law was published in the official gazette on July 27.

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Belgian Tax Amnesty Falls Short of Expectations

24 September 2004

With just three months to go to the end of the year, Belgian Finance Minister Didier Reynders has lowered his expectations about the outcome of Belgium's tax amnesty. When the tax amnesty was introduced in January, he anticipated a windfall of about €850 million, but as of July, the amounts regularized totaled just over €204 million.

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Ghent Court of Appeal Ratifies Belgian Company's €12 Million Tax Settlement

17 September 2004

The Ghent Court of Appeal on September 14 ratified a settlement between Belgian tax authorities and Artwork Systems Group NV under which the Belgian company has agreed to pay more than €12 million in corporate income tax. The settlement closes all litigation that had been pending before the court of appeal and the Conseil d'Etat (Supreme Administrative Court).

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Belgium's Tax on Sale of Substantial Shareholdings to Foreign Entity Violates EC Treaty, Court Says

28 June 2004

European Court of Justice on 8 June issued a reasoned order in a preliminary ruling sought by the Antwerp Court of First Instance on the compatibility with EU law of Belgium's capital gains tax on the sale of a substantial participation in a Belgian company to a foreign entity (De Baeck v. Belgian State (Case C-268/03)). The Court found articles 67(8) and 67 ter of the Belgian Income Tax Code (ITC) 1964, which govern that taxation, to be incompatible with the principles of freedom of establishment and free movement of capital, as established in the EC Treaty.

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Belgium Extends Tax Incentive for Employment of Researchers

11 June 2004

The Belgian government on 4 June approved a draft bill that would extend a special withholding tax exemption for employers of researchers to include partnerships between private-sector enterprises and universities and scientific institutions.

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Belgian Lawmakers Move to Enhance Tax Incentive for Films

7 April 2004

The Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of the Belgian Parliament, on 1 April approved a bill amending the Income Tax Code to make the so-called tax shelter for audiovisual works even more attractive.

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Belgium Confirms Tax-Exempt Status of Cross-Border Leases With U.S. Company

2 March 2004

Belgian Minister of Finance Didier Reynders recently announced that the ministry's ruling committee has confirmed the tax-exempt status of cross-border leasing agreements that the municipalities of Sint-Niklaas, Dendermonde, and Hamme plan to sign with the Fifth Third Leasing Co. of the United States.

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Belgian Court Ruling Illustrates Dangers of Fiscal Engineering

18 February 2004

A 2002 tax ruling and its consequences for a Belgian company illustrate that fiscal engineering, however well planned, can turn against a company.

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ECJ Advocate General Finds Belgium's Stock Exchange Taxes Violate EU Law

21 January 2004

Belgium has failed to comply with its obligations under article 11 of Directive 69/335/EC by imposing a stock exchange tax on the remittance of securities to subscribers and a tax on the physical delivery of bearer securities when bearer securities are remitted to the subscribers, a European Court of Justice advocate general has found.

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Belgian Tax Amnesty Bill Signed Into Law

7 January 2004

Belgian tax amnesty legislation has been rushed through both houses of Parliament (for prior coverage, see 2004 WTD 3-3 or Doc 2004-212) and signed by King Albert II, but it now appears that it will not enter into force until mid- January.

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Belgium Backs Down on Investment Fund Tax Increase

12 November 2003

In July Belgium adopted a government bill that would triple the tax on the value of Belgian investment funds and increase the tax on the physical delivery of bearer securities from the current 0.2 percent to 0.4 percent of the value of the securities. (For prior coverage, see Tax Notes Int'l, 11 Aug. 2003, p. 529, 2003 WTD 148-1, or Doc 2003-17841).

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ECJ to Examine Belgian Capital Gains Tax on Substantial Shareholdings

27 October 2003

The Antwerp Court of First Instance has sought a preliminary ruling from the European Court of Justice concerning the compatibility with EU law of the Belgian capital gains tax on the sale to a foreign entity of a substantial participation in a Belgian company.

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Courts Deal Belgian Tax Authorities Setback on Foreign Tax Credit Transactions

28 August 2003

Recent rulings by the Courts of First Instance of Mons and Brussels have thrown cold water on Belgian tax authorities' cases against companies it has accused of misusing foreign tax credits to avoid corporate income tax liability.

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Modifications to the Belgian Stock Option Regime: Practical Issues

28 July 2003

The Act of 24 December 2002 has modified provisions of the 1999 Belgian tax regime for stock options granted under an employee stock option plan (ESOP)

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Belgium's New VAT Rules for Electronically Supplied Services Enter Into Force

2 July 2003

Belgium, by way of a 22 April law published in the official gazette on 13 May, has implemented the EU Council Directive on electronically supplied services, with effect from 1 July.

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Belgium, France Seek to Resolve Final Sticking Points in New Double Tax Treaty

24 June 2003

Belgian officials recently expressed hope that negotiators will reach an agreement before the end of June on a new double tax treaty with France that would replace the one that dates back to 1964.

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Belgium Implements 'Approved' Part of Tonnage Tax Regime

30 May 2003

The Belgian Parliament on 2 August 2002 adopted a Belgian tonnage tax regime to encourage the flagging in of Belgian-based shipping companies that had abandoned the Belgian flag in favor of lowtax jurisdictions (articles 115 to 127 of the Loi Programme of 2 August 2002, published in the Belgian State Gazette on 29 August 2002.

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Belgian Tax Authorities Interpret Treaty Provisions for Directors' Fees

13 May 2003

In an administrative note of 17 December 2002, the Belgian tax authorities detail how they interpret article 16 of the income tax treaties that they have signed in the last decade with countries such as Argentina, Finland, India, Kazakhstan, Mauritius, Mexico, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, and Vietnam.

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Belgian Court of Audit Criticizes Tax Regime for Foreign Executives

10 March 2003

In a report presented to the Belgian Parliament on 25 February, the Belgian Court of Audit questions the legality and effectiveness of Belgium's special tax regime for foreign executives.

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Belgium Finalizes List of Tax Havens

5 March 2003

In a 13 February royal decree, published in the official gazette on 21 February, Belgian Minister of Finance Didier Reynders finalized the list of countries deemed to have advantageous tax regimes. Tax authorities published a first draft of the list of advantageous tax regimes on 19 November 2002.

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Belgium's Antiavoidance Rule: The First Case Law

24 February 2003

In 1993, Belgium introduced a general antiavoidance rule to the Income Tax Code (article 344 section 1 ITC 1992) to give the tax authorities more ability to disregard transactions that are created only to avoid taxation.

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Belgium's Taxman Giveth, But Social Security Taketh Away

10 February 2003

Your edition of 6 January 2003 mentioned that the Belgian minister of finance increased the level of tax-exempt gifts of coupons or checks from €25 to €35. (For prior coverage, see Tax Notes Int'l, 6 Jan. 2003, p. 20, 2002 WTD 247-2 , or Doc 2002-28005 (3 original pages)).

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Belgian Software Company Loses Court Battle Over Capital Gain Claim

24 December 2002

The Ghent software company Artwork Systems Group (AWSG) recently lost its first court battle with Belgian tax authorities over a €58.1 million capital gain claim. The Belgian company risks losing its listing on NASDAQ Europe -- and a lot more -- if the decision is confirmed by the Court of Appeal.

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Belgian Tax Bill Updates 1999 Employee Stock Option Regime

24 December 2002

After approving a bill that will cut the average corporate income tax from 40.17 percent to 33.99 percent, the Belgian Senate on 23 December approved wide-ranging legislation (the so- called Loi Programme) that includes several tax provisions.

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Belgian Ministry of Finance Organizes Information Round on Advantageous Tax Regimes

10 December 2002

The Finance Committee of the Belgian Parliament has approved a draft bill that would implement a major corporate income tax reform. The bill, which the panel okayed on 13 November, must now be submitted for a vote in plenary session.

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Belgian Tax Proposals Address Stock Options, Private Computers

12 November 2002

On 23 October, the Belgian government adopted the text of a "Loi Programme," with some tax proposals it will propose to the Parliament.

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Belgium, Germany Sign Protocol Ending Cross-Border Worker Rule

7 November 2002

On 5 November, the Belgian and German ministers of finance signed a protocol to the double taxation convention between their two countries signed on 11 April 1967.

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Belgium Implements EU Savings Tax Directive

5 July 2002

At its meeting on June 6 and 7, the EU Council of Economic and Finance Ministers confirmed that all EU member states have transposed the EU savings tax directive (2003/48/EC) into their domestic laws. The resulting exchange-of-information system became effective in the European Union on July 1. Belgium transposed the directive in its law of May 17, 2004, and the legislation entered into force there on July 1. However, much remains to be done.

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