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Sep 22nd


"I came to Belgium for eight months, and that was sixteen years ago" is one of the most heard comments of expatriates living in Belgium.

You will have come across income tax and social security, having paid it on your earnings and on the income from your investments. If you have bought property, you will have paid registration tax. For estate planning purposes you may want to understand gift tax and inheritance tax

Belgian taxes can be quite high.  Saying that Belgium is a tax haven sounds cynical.  However it can be for those that already have assets. There is no wealth tax and there is no capital gains tax, that is if you are careful to avoid the pitfalls. 

Belgium can be a good place to take up your pension as well, without any limitations.  

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Estate Planning


On April 9, the tax authorities have published on their website ( NL / FR ) a Practice Note on the uses and abuses of the Risk Capital Deduction.

The note is a loose compilation of the parliamentary discussions, the statements of the Finance Minister, decisions of the Ruling Committee and case law, hastily thrown together.  It is clearly a political document to reassure the critics that abuses will be attacked. It is also a clear sign to the multinational groups who have a treasury center, a financing company or an internal bank in Belgium and to the last of the coordination centers that stay in Belgium. They are not aimed at, and if they want to come to Belgium, the advance tax ruling makes interesting reading. Moreover, centralizing financing activities in a specialized purpose company or setting up specialized subsidiaries are economically justified transactions.

The companies that should worry are those that have used artificial constructions without any economic justification, with the sole aim of realising a tax saving.  That would be the case if they set up a separate entity to hold assets that would not qualify for the risk capital deduction. However, the practice note does not give the tax inspector a complete arsenal of foolproof weapons, but rather a check list of issues where he could use an anti avoidance rule.  Most items on the checklist are already on the check list of tax advisers.

The use of some of them, such as the general anti avoidance rule and the company’s object test, will result in long drawn court battles.  However, the most effective weapon may well be interest deduction for the financing of the equity base of a subsidiary, and that will not normally be a problem for a foreign parent company.