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Belgium Enacts Corporate Tax Reform

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

03 January 2018

The Belgian Government has published the new corporate income tax reform law, which, among other measures, provides for a corporate tax cut, in the Official Gazette following parliament's approval of the legislation last month.

The tax reform law includes measures included in last summer's coalition agreement and was voted through by parliament on December 22, 2017, before being published in the Official Gazette on December 29, with most changes applying from 2018.

Under the reforms, corporate tax, currently 33.99 percent including the solidarity contribution, is lowered to 29 percent in 2018 (29.58 percent including solidarity contribution), and will be cut to 25 percent in 2020. In addition, the solidarity contribution is being phased out, falling from three percent to two percent for 2018, and to zero percent from 2020.

The agreement also includes cuts to corporate tax for SMEs, which may qualify for a reduced 20 percent income tax rate on the first EUR100,000 (USD120,000) of income from 2018, instead of 25 percent tax under current rules. However, SMEs would have to meet certain requirements in order to qualify for the reduced rate. These include that at least two of the following conditions are met: a maximum turnover of EUR9m; a maximum balance sheet total of EUR4.5m; and no more than 50 workers employed.

Qualifying SMEs can also benefit from a higher investment deduction of 20 percent (previously eight percent) which is applicable for investments made in 2018 and 2019.

The corporate tax rate reductions are to be offset by limitations to the basket of deductions that companies can claim against income, including the deduction of carried forward losses, the notional interest deduction, the carried forward dividends received deduction, and the carried forward income innovation deduction. As a result, these deductions will be restricted to 70 percent of the portion of income exceeding EUR1m.

Furthermore, the proposals apply restrictions to the notional interest deduction (NID) regime, under which companies are permitted to deduct a fictional, or notional, rate of interest based on their adjusted equity, at a level equal to the average rate of 10-year government bonds. Under these changes, the NID will be available only in respect of increases in company equity rather than total equity.

The tax reforms also include Belgium's commitment to transpose the European Union anti-avoidance directives into Belgian law.

However, the dividends-received deduction will be increased from 95 percent to 100 percent under the reforms, a move designed to ensure that Belgium remains an attractive holding company jurisdiction.

TAGS: tax | investment | holding company | Belgium | interest | law | corporation tax | legislation | dividends | tax reform | Europe

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