General support measures to undertakings
Tax debt measures
Enterprises affected by COVID-19 outbreak may apply for aid with the Federal Tax Administration. The support measures must provide financial breathing space and allow debtors to overcome their temporary financial difficulties.
The support measures are available to all natural or legal persons in possession of a company number (CBE):
The support measures include repayment plans, exemption from arrears interest and a waiver of fines for non-payments. They are available for the following tax debts:
The support measures cannot be granted to undertakings which, independently of the coronavirus, have structural payment difficulties, nor if they have not complied with the filing conditions of the relevant tax returns or if the debts arise from fraud. Furthermore, the support measure will be withdrawn if the authorised repayment plan has not been complied with, unless timely contact with the tax authorities is made by the debtor and if a collective insolvency procedure arises (e.g. bankruptcy, judicial reorganisation, etc.).
One request per debt may be made once a notice of assessment/payment has been received and until 30 June 2020. The request should be made by email or by post to the competent Regional Recovery Center ("Regionaal Invorderingscentrum" / "Centre régional de Recouvrement") (i.e., the competent centre depends on the person's postal code or company's statutory seat - for help as to the appropriate office, click here). Foreign companies may direct their requests to the Regional Recovery Center Brussels 1 (Boulevard Botanique 50, box 315, 1000 Brussels / email: [email protected]).
A reply should arrive within 30 days of the request being received by the tax authorities.
Income Tax Prepayments
The credit rates on personal income tax prepayments (for self-employed workers) have been increased by 0.25% for both the 3rd and 4th quarters to decrease the impact of late/postponed payments. They will therefore amount respectively to 2.25% and 1.75% rather than 2% and 1.5%.
The increased percentages do not apply to individuals who could receive more benefits due to advance payments.
The credit rates on corporate income tax prepayments have been increased by 0.75% for both the 3rd and 4th quarters to decrease the impact of late/postponed payments. They will therefore amount respectively to 6.75% and 5.25% rather than 6% and 4.5%.
This measure is only applicable for companies with liquidity problems. It will therefore not be applicable to companies that have effected:
The percentages of the increases themselves remain unchanged, as do the dates of the prepayments.
Extension of tax returns' filing delays
Corporate income tax, legal entities tax and non-resident (corporate) tax whose filing deadline elapses/d between 16 March and 30 April 2020 included have been granted an automatic delay until Thursday 30 April 2020 at midnight to file their tax returns.
The deadline for the filing of VAT periodical returns and VAT intra-community statements relating to:
Annual VAT listings may be filed until 30 April 2020 or, in case of termination of business, at the latest at the end of the 4th month following the cessation of the activities subject to VAT.
Accelerated refund of VAT credit on VAT current account
All applicants for monthly VAT returns (with/without a monthly refund authorisation and whether or not considered as "starter") will be able to benefit, subject to the below conditions, from an accelerated refund of the VAT credit on their current account as of 31 March 2020.
All monthly applicants wishing to benefit from this accelerated refund should file (via Intervat) their February and March 2020 VAT returns respectively by 3 April 2020 (included) and 3 May 2020 (included), while ticking the box "Request for refund". VAT taxpayers may file a corrected VAT return via Intervat until 3 April 2020 (included) or 3 May 2020 (included) respectively, in which they change this option.
The other basic conditions remain applicable, among others:
Moreover, there must be no opposition to this refund (following writs of garnishments served and assignments of receivables notified to the Federal Tax Administration).
Refund will take place at the latest on 30 April 2020 (instead of 29 May 2020 or 30 June 2020).
This credit may possibly be subject to a deduction or offset against another open debt and be subject to a "VAT credit check".
Attention: this filing deadline is without prejudice to the possibility of filing on time (up to and including 6 April 2020) the monthly returns for February 2020 that do not show a credit balance or for which a refund is not requested.
Automatic deferral for VAT and payroll tax payments
An automatic two-month deferral for the payment of VAT and payroll tax is applicable, without having to pay fines or interest on arrears, meaning that:
In addition to this automatic postponement of payment, it is also possible to request the application of the abovementioned support measures for the payment of debts relating to VAT and payroll tax (i.e. repayment plans, exemption from arrears interest and a waiver of fines for non-payments).
Automatic deferral for personal income tax, corporate income tax, legal entities tax and non-resident (corporate) tax
An additional period of two months will be automatically granted for the payments of personal income tax, corporate income tax, legal entities tax and non-resident (corporate) tax which relate to assessment notices for tax year 2019 established as of 12 March 2020.
Again, the payment of debts relating to personal or corporate income tax (including those established before 12 March 2020) is also subject to the abovementioned support measures (i.e. repayment plans, exemption from arrears interest and a waiver of fines for non-payments).
Extension of excise duty, packaging tax and VAT payment terms for alcohol and alcohol-containing beverages
Payments of abovementioned taxes have been extended from 1 to 4 weeks for all companies with a credit account, as of 21 March 2020 and until 30 June 2020 at least.
Tax treatment of donations of medical equipment
The medical equipment includes medical devices and instruments, face masks and other protective gear but excludes medicines and legal drugs, which are directly given to qualifying hospitals and other healthcare institutions (as recognised by the Public Federal Service Healthcare) between 1 March 2020 and 30 June 2020.
Such donations may be made free of VAT (temporary waiver of self-supply rule), will not constitute abnormal or benevolent advantages granted and will remain deductible in the hands of the donators provided that for each donation made, a document is drawn up by the healthcare institution confirming that the goods have been obtained free of charge and undertaking either to use the goods itself in the provision of care or to make them available free of charge to another qualifying healthcare institution.
The document must be drawn up in duplicate for each party to the donation and contain at least the following information:
Some tolerances with regard to the document are permitted (see Title 4, points 17 to 21 here).
The said document replaces, in the hands of the donor, the document establishing the self-supply, provided for in Article 3 of Royal Decree Nr 1 of 29 December 1992 on measures to ensure VAT payment. It also reverses the legal presumption of Article 64(1) of the VAT Code in respect of the taxable donor.
Tax deductibility of debt write-downs
The tax authorities have announced in their circular 2020/C/45 dd. 23 March 2020 that they will show flexibility with regard to the tax deductibility of write-downs for probable losses on trade receivables. Tax rules are indeed stricter in this regard than accounting rules, which only require uncertainty as to the collection of the debt in order to book a write-down in respect of doubtful debtors.
The "special circumstances" that must have occurred during the taxable period will therefore be assumed to be present in the context of the Coronovirus crisis, as the crisis "justifies the exemption of write-downs on trade receivables from companies that are in arrears with the payment of these receivables as a direct or indirect consequence of the measures taken by the federal government".
The crucial condition for the deductibility of the write-down of the receivable is that the debtor must suffer a significant loss of turnover.
This means that the taxpayer's burden of proof has been simplified and that there will now be a presumption that a loss on the receivable is "probable" within the meaning of article 48 ITC as long as the debtor has suffered a significant loss of turnover (the old rule that a presumption is not sufficient being temporarily suspended).
Please note however that the usual formalities still need to be complied with and that companies must identify and give details about every doubtful debtor in Form 204.3 accompanying the taxpayer's tax return.
Inheritance tax/registration duties