Taxes in Belgium: Filing your Belgian tax return
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 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.
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.
- Federal Public Service Finance provides information on all aspects of taxation, almost all of which is available only in Dutch and French. You can track the progress of your tax return through FPS Finance application Minfin. To find your local FPS Finance office, click here.
- Portail de la Wallonie has information in French on regional taxes in Wallonia.
- Vlaanderren.be has information in Dutch on regional taxes in Flanders.
- Find an accounting expert (expert-comptable/compte fiscal/accountant/belastingconsulent) through the website of the Instituut van de Accountants en de Blastingconsulenten (French or Dutch only).
Need advice? Post your question on Expatica's free Ask the Expert service to see if we can help.
Updated from 2012, 2014.