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Many fields of law today can be described as fluid and fast-changing. Tax law, however, would seem to hold a paramount title to such a description. In a rapidly globalising and evolving environment, governments try to find new ways to levy on economic transactions, not only to provide revenue, but also for public policy reasons. This continuous law-making results in a complex legislation that constitutes a permanent source of frustration for many taxpayers.

 

In practice, complexity and rigidity often go hand in hand with inconsistency. The lack of a coherent organizing principle has become magnified over time due to the perpetual interplay between legislative amendments to our tax legislation and the private sector responses to those regulatory changes. For many taxpayers, companies as well as individuals, the filing of their annual tax report has become a recurring riddle in the dark. Even when they try to follow the different rules, taxpayers are often confronted with the perils of trying to comply with our Byzantine tax laws.

 

Tax law is a complex matter and every effort must be made to simplify the system for those who may not always have access to professional assistance. Lately, a number of initiatives have been taken by the Belgian Tax Administration to facilitate tax compliance, including an improved telephone information system and an online service that allows taxpayers to digitally file their tax report. By simplifying the tax system, governments will eventually be able to improve efficiency, reduce costs and ultimately better manage the implementation of their tax legislation.

 

Many initiatives are aimed at reducing the administrative burden for taxpayers, but there is still a whole lot of work to be done on other terrains. Simplification is not only achieved through facilitating tax compliance as such, but also by reducing regulation, improving government-to-citizen communication and developing information exchange with the individual taxpayer. For example, a better view on the many deductions and tax credits available will help to lower the applicable tax bracket. Far too many taxpayers have no knowledge about the different benefits available and do not profit from what they are entitled to in the first place.

 

However, this problem requires more than just a national approach. Not only domestic taxpayers, but also foreign nationals who come to work in Belgium are often left in the cold. Considering the ease of working across borders nowadays, Belgium and especially its capital Brussels have become a polyglot home of many international organisations, companies and their workforce. Many governments are still not capable of dealing with the different challenges that globalization brings.

 

Foreign nationals frequently face the problem that they are being taxed in different ways because of their nationality or place of residence and, in particular, bare the risk of being taxed twice on the same income. This double taxation does not only result from the application of different, uncoordinated national tax arrangements, but also from a general lack of information the foreigner often sees himself confronted with.

 

The goal of FisCuriosa is to provide our readers, domestic as well as foreign taxpayers, with a handy overview of specific tax topics that are up to date, relevant and easy to access. The information in this summary is intended to be a general overview and does not pretend to be complete or absolute. Certain details have been deliberately omitted for reasons of simplicity. The contents of this website should not be taken as an authoritative statement of Belgian tax law, but more as a basic principle and a starting point for further research on the topic in question.

 

Since every individual tax situation is different, we strongly encourage our readers to seek professional advice concerning specific matters before making any decision.

 

At FisCuriosa we make every effort to offer information that is current, correct and clearly expressed. We know that our readers rely on timely and frequently updated content and we strive to keep up this expectation and continue working towards innovative and interesting tax-related topics. Our choice of topics results from our practical work experience and our close collaboration with Expatica for which we provide tax consulting services. We believe that providing relevant and interesting information can only result from listening to our audience, so please, feel free to leave your comments and questions.

 

After all, to have a thorough knowledge of something has two big advantages: you judge less and you judge better...

 

 

Gregory GOOSSENS

Founder

 

 

FisCuriosa

Your online guide to Belgian Tax Law