Taxes in Belgium: Filing your Belgian tax return

Taxes in Belgium: Filing your Belgian tax return

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A guide to Belgian taxation in 2015 for expats, with up-to-date information on income tax, special expat tax status, VAT, property tax and other taxes in Belgium.

If you're living and working in Belgium, you will likely be subject to pay certain Belgian taxes and will need to file a Belgian tax return, although some exceptions exist for certain expats.

Taxation in Belgium is one of the highest in Europe at 50 percent for the top earners. Income tax and company tax are collected at state level but the municipal authorities also collect property tax and municipal tax. However, there is a special tax status for some expats whereby resident foreigners are treated as non-residents for tax purposes and enjoy generous tax allowances.

The information given here provides a general overview only, and you should always get professional advice from a Belgian financial professional regarding your individual tax situation in Belgium.

Who has to pay Belgian taxes?

How much you are taxed depends on whether you are a resident or non-resident of Belgium. For taxation purposes, you are classed as a resident of Belgium if your family home is in Belgium or it is where you work.

If you are living in Belgium for at least six months (183 days) of the year and registered with your local commune, then you are classed as a resident and have to pay Belgium income tax on your worldwide income. Your taxable income is the income left after deductions for social security contributions, personal allowance, professional costs, etc.

If you live in Belgium for less than six months (183 days), you will only be taxed on the income earned in Belgium, including rents and capital gains.

Special tax concessions for some expats
If you have come to Belgium to work temporarily as an executive, specialist or researcher for the Belgian part of an international company or organisation, you may qualify for a special expatriate tax status. This entitles you to be treated as a non-resident for tax purposes, so you are only taxed on your Belgian-earned income. Certain other expenses  – such as cost of living, housing, school fees  – of up to EUR 11,250, or exceptionally up to EUR 29,750 for scientists, are also tax-free.

To obtain expat tax status you and your employer must apply to the Belgian tax authorities within six months of the beginning of the month after the month of arrival in Belgium.

Dual taxation agreements
Belgium has signed over 90 conventions with other countries to avoid double taxation (ie. paying tax in your home country and in Belgium). See this Federal Public Service Finance list to see the up-to-date list of countries.

Paying taxes in Belgium

The tax year runs from 1 January to 31 December.

If you are an employee then your employer will deduct your income tax (impôt des personnes physiques or personenbelasting) from your salary on a monthly basis, which is known as the Précompte Professionnel/Bedrijfsvoorheffing. However, everyone resident in Belgium and non-residents taxed on Belgian-sourced income have to file an annual Belgian tax return.

You will usually receive a tax return in May and have to complete a tax return (déclaration/aangifte) before the end of June (see the return for the exact date) of the year following the income year. Non-residents file their return at the end of September/beginning of October.

If you don’t submit your return by the deadline, you may face a fine and the tax authorities may estimate how much tax you need to pay. You can track the progress of your tax return through FPS Finance application Minfin.

You will be taxed on your earned income minus your mandatory social security contributions, personal allowances, dependent spouse allowance and professional costs (as an actual amount or fixed standard cost). As well as income earned through employment or self-employment, other taxable income incudes income from real estate and investments.

Work out how much income tax you will have to pay in Belgium using this online income tax calculator.

Filing your Belgian tax return

You can pay tax by post to your local tax office (the address will be on the top of your tax return) or online using a Belgian eID through the Belgian government’s tax portal Tax-on-web.

If you are non-resident with a Belgian-earned income, then you have to inform your competent tax collectors office, who will send you a tax return every year. You can also pay by post or online.

The deadline for paying online is usually later than the postal deadline.

Belgian income tax bands 2015

  • Up to EUR 8,710: 25 percent
  • EUR 8,710 – EUR 12,400: 30 percent
  • EUR 12,400 – EUR 20,660: 40 percent
  • EUR 20,660 – EUR 37,870: 45 percent
  • EUR 37,870+: 50 percent

Spouses and registered partners
If you are married or in a registered civil partnership you need to file a joint tax return but your incomes will be taxed separately. If only one of you is earning, 30 percent of the income can be attributed to the non-earning partner and taxable at a lower rate (up to EUR 10,200 in 2014). This is known as the dependent spouse allowance. If the income of the second earner is less than the maximum amount, then the additional income from the primary earner is attributed to the secondary earner up to the maximum amount.

Personal allowances and tax credits in Belgium
The basic personal allowance is EUR 7,070; if you have one child it is EUR 1,500, for two children it is EUR 3,870, for three children it is EUR 8,670 and so on. As a rule, non-residents who don’t own a home in Belgium nor earn at least 75 percent of their income in Belgium can’t claim personal allowances.

Tax credits in Belgium include:

  • Charitable donations
  • Capital and interest payments in relation to a mortgage
  • Pension plan contributions
  • Life insurance plan contributions
  • Child-care expenses 
  • Energy saving investments.

Social security payments in Belgium

Social security is paid on top of earned income. If you’re employed your employer pays part and you pay another, smaller part (which worked out to be 35 percent and 13.07 percent respectively in 2014).

Self-employed workers pay the amount themselves but it is capped at EUR 15,905 per year.

VAT in Belgium

In Belgium, VAT is called Taxe sur la Valeur Ajoutée (TVA) or Belasting over de Toegevoegde Waarde (BTW). It is payable on most goods and services at a rate of 21 percent. VAT on food in restaurants and social housing is at 12 percent. Food, water, books and medicines are set at 6 percent and some daily and weekly publications and recycled goods are rated at zero percent.

Other taxes in Belgium

Property tax  – Précompte immobilier/Onroerende voorheffing (PI/OV)
This is an annual tax on property owners (not tenants), based on ownership as at 1 January of each year. The amount is a percentage of the revenue cadastral/kadastraal inkomen (estimated annual rental) and is levied by each region. In Flanders it is around 2.5 percent, and in Wallonia and Brussels around 1.25 percent.

Municipal taxes
Municipal taxes for TV, rubbish, water, etc. are levied by the regions/provinces and municipalities (communes/gemeenten) at rates of up to 9 percent, calculated on the amount of income tax you pay. 

Non-residents don’t pay municipal tax but pay instead a federal tax at a flat rate of 7 percent on income tax.

Inheritance, capital gains and gift tax
Inheritance tax is payable on the total value of the estate of a person settled in Belgium, or any property owned in Belgium if they are not settled there. Heirs pay tax on their share. Those working for the EU, NATO or similar organisations are exempt.

Capital gains tax is payable on the difference between the original purchase price and the final sale price on property and land sales. Gift tax is a tax on financial gifts to relatives.

Business taxation

The basic rate of business taxation is 33 percent. To find out more about taxation for businesses and the self-employed in Belgium, read our guide to taxation, social and other charges for the self-employed in Belgium.

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15 Comments To This Article

  • Mahesh posted:

    on 10th January 2016, 20:08:21 - Reply

    Hi ,
    I will be in belgium for 2.5 months this year and was here 2.5 months last year. So I have to file 2 IT returns? My family is in India, in that case can 30% be considered for spouse.. Will I be eligible for the standard deduction considering spouse and child for the year? Please advise.

    [Moderator's note: You can also post questions on our Ask the Expert free service.]

  • Alexandros posted:

    on 17th December 2015, 03:38:18 - Reply

    I am planning to come in Belgium, through the Erasmus semester exchange program, and since it will be my last semester there, I have the intention to find a job and get settled there.... My question is if I find a part time job, how much money I will get in hands at least???

    [Moderator's note: You can also post questions on our Ask the Expert free service.]

  • Marco posted:

    on 22nd August 2015, 20:04:28 - Reply

    Hello, my employer pays me a Brut mensuel that is 2600 but a lot of it goes away with taxes. Could it be possible that they would give me cheque repas (about 100 euros a month) and reimburse me for the rent I pay in Brussels (about 550) and lower my brut mensuel of 650 euros instead ? In that case I would have less taxes to pay. How should it be done ?
  • Dmitri posted:

    on 11th June 2015, 22:01:51 - Reply

    Cars are cheaper , much cheaper than in Scandinavia. Government systems is aching to mild-fascist state, bureaucratic nightmare where government outsources every function to the citizenry. Food quality and choices are much worse than Scandinavia or Finland. People are very provincial and suspicious of foreigners even if you are white Scandinavian. This country should not be capital of Europe, it is too dysfunctional.
  • Thomas posted:

    on 3rd May 2015, 12:20:28 - Reply

    I was sent by my company to Belgium for couple of months. ... Since I've earned 10 600 euro per month gross for 4 months I had to pay this b... 47% ! ...Never again.

    [Comment edited by moderator]

  • IW posted:

    on 6th March 2015, 14:37:14 - Reply

    Well, I worked in Belgium for a few months last year. It was a temporary contract, normal thing for such immigrant as I am. I can say, that salary was really good. Worth to do it again. Now I'm going for a tax refund so let's see how that will end. The more you get the more you gotta give away - that's what I've learned..despite that, BE seems a good country to live in, rent is same to compare with other countries, even cheaper than in Denmark, for example. Food - well, it really depends on a lifestyle and habits. Real estate as to own one..there I'm not the one to judge because of my poor knowledge.

  • Relo posted:

    on 27th November 2014, 14:16:13 - Reply

    Belgium is without a doubt the worst country to try to make a living in. If you're wealthy when you move here, you're fine. But if you're trying to make anything for yourself here it is impossible - and I mean literally impossible. Any profit you have it taken from you by the government. And gain you achieve is taken away. My advice is to get out of the country as quickly as possible unless you're using it for a tax shelter or independently wealthy. Belgium is absolutely the worst country to live in.
  • S.H. More posted:

    on 1st October 2014, 14:26:07 - Reply

  • Irma Bringas Claeys posted:

    on 5th June 2014, 14:31:40 - Reply

    My late husband was the main bread winner in our household, he was Belgian and I am from U.S.A. I left back home 2 running businesses that I managed on a daily basis, just to follow my husband as he couldn't settle in the U.S., Here he was Sales Director IT Financial Software etc; very hard work, many hours and a lot of travelling, he worked extremely hard and when tax time came 64% of NET income was out, practically you could buy a house with the taxes paid yearly. He passed away in 2009, and since then it has been extremely difficult financially. The idea was to get back to the U.S.A. so we didn't buy a house here, so now I can't go back home with my daughter, so high price renting and paying taxes on my very low income.
  • andrew posted:

    on 18th May 2014, 11:39:02 - Reply

    The Belgian taxation system belongs to 200 years ago. For those idiots (like me) who are entrepreneurs, trying to build a business in 2014, you just get shot down by punitive taxes. One piece of advice I have been given in Belgium, is if you wish to pay less tax then you should aim to earn less. Astonishing logic!
  • Li posted:

    on 7th May 2014, 19:26:29 - Reply

    Someone I know who has been unemployed for years bought a place in Turkey based on the unemployment package.
  • alex posted:

    on 1st March 2014, 22:07:56 - Reply

    Belgium has the highest tax rate on salary in the World, while its public services are average to poor compared to other EU countries. If you are a super-rich, however, not living on your salary, this country is considered as a tax-heaven. In other words, this is a total rip-off. I got the hell out of there, albeit belgian, and strongly intend not to come back. Ever.
  • chacha posted:

    on 25th February 2014, 12:52:29 - Reply

    [Moderator's note: Please direct expert questions to our Ask the Expert service]

  • Mari posted:

    on 15th February 2014, 11:35:42 - Reply

    When you work hard and get awarded it's and award and recognition more for the government than yourself! It's not normal that anything gets taxed more than 50%. And at the same time all unemployed immigrants receive an unemployment package of 1000 eur while I work my ass off every single day and and get just a little more
  • Lukeyluke posted:

    on 14th September 2013, 17:20:53 - Reply

    My wife is from Belgium, the only reason i live here.
    50% is the limit for me, however at Xmas I got a 3,000 bonus, after tax deductions i took home about 750 euros. I flet sick, i could not believe how much the goverment took form me. My company had to pay about 5,000 for me to get paid 3,000 and then they took again to leave me with 750....... Hahaha
    Everything in Belgium costs more than anywhere else in the EU, cars, taxes on cars, car insureance, TV, internet, phones, food. Buying a house, you pay 15 plus % in taxes up front. Health care, you pay upfront and claim 20% back, doctors, hospitals Crazzy place.

    If you work for a company, you have no chance of saving, every little euro you make, some one has a reason to take it off you.

    Now, when you come here, you will see a LOT of big nice new cars, houses these people own thire companies and almost all do trads in black. The goverment take so much anyone and everyone who can, will do what they can to avoide paying taxes because of the groverment wanting more than you.

    I have never seen so many expats leave because of the taxes.