Mazars Info May 2021

LEGAL

The UBO register: extension of deadline until 31 August 2021 and new FAQ

In a previous newsletter, we have already explained that the operating procedures of the UBO register were changed.

The Royal Decree of 23 September 2020 introduced the obligation to communicate to the UBO register any document proving that the information relating to an ultimate beneficiary is adequate, up to date and accurate. Examples of such documents include a copy of the shareholders’ register, the company’s articles of association, a shareholders’ agreement, a notarial deed, minutes of a general meeting, an extract from a foreign trade register or any other document.

Originally, the deadline to upload these documents was 30 April 2021.

The deadline for uploading supporting documents and the deadline for the annual confirmation of the information in the UBO register have now been extended to 31 August 2021.

In addition, an updated version of the FAQ was published on 21 April 2021. This FAQ serves as an aid for those who fill in the UBO register. It clarifies a number of issues, such as which foreign documents must be translated, legalised and apostilled, what the value of an electronic shareholders’ register is, the possibility of requesting deviations, the description of the managerial staff that must be registered when no UBO of the first or second category can be registered, etc.
Both measures should allow the obliged entities to timely update their UBO register.

PERSONAL INCOME TAX

Circular letter from Belgian tax authorities (re)defines the home working allowances

The Belgian tax authorities have published a circular letter on February 26 in order to elaborate the principles regarding the definition of home working, as well as to clarify which allowances can be granted by the employer to his employees working from home as a ‘cost proper to the employer’ (which is in principle tax deductible for the employer, but is regarded as a non-taxable allowance for the employee). This circular letter is replacing the previous circular letters of January 16, and July 14, 2020 on this topic.

Home work can be defined as all activities performed at the home office of employees as if they would have been done at the premises of the employer during the normal working hours. As such, work performed during weekends as well as outside of the office hours, will not be considered as home work.

The circular letter is not applicable for directors, nor for employees performing their activities based on a specific contractual set-up (i.e. salary split, benefitting from the Belgian special tax status, …). Nevertheless, these situations can be evaluated case by case and – if one would like to obtain certainty with regard to the qualification of a lump sum allowance - it remains possible to ask for a tax ruling.

Employees, performing their activities on a regular and structural basis from home, are eligible for a reimbursement up to EUR 129,48. Exceptionally, this amount has been raised up to EUR 144,31 for April, May and June 2021. This criterium is based on an equivalent of working 1 day per week at home and is to be evaluated on a monthly basis. Employees who are working part time can still be eligible for the total amount of EUR 129,48.

A differentiation of the home working allowance between categories of employees is possible if it is based on objective criteria.

The home working allowance of EUR 129,48 covers all costs which are related to office costs in general such as the use of the premises and the utility services, paper, ink, pens, maintenance, insurance, property tax, …

The employer can decide to grant following allowances on top of the home working allowance to their employees who are working from home:

  • A lump sum of EUR 20,00/month to employees who are using their private internet connection for professional purposes;
  • A lump sum of EUR 20,00/month to employees who are using their private computer for professional purposes, however this lump sum can’t be granted if the company provides the employee with a laptop or PC;
  • In case the employee only uses a private second monitor, printer or scanner (in case a computer was already provided by the employer) for professional purposes, a lump sum of maximum EUR 5,00/used device/month (during max. 3 years) with an absolute maximum of EUR 10,00/month can be paid by the employer. A cumulation with the allowance of EUR 20,00 for the professional use of a private computer is however not possible.

Moreover, employers can support their employees in organizing their home working environment by:

  • Either reimbursing costs the employee made to buy office furniture (such as a desk, a chair, a desk closet, a desk lamp) or IT tools (such as a headset, second screen, keyboard, mouse/trackpad or specific IT material for employees with a disability). However, the reimbursement of these costs will only be regarded as a cost proper to the employer if the expenses are necessary to perform the job and if the amounts are reasonable and proven by invoices. Moreover, a certain depreciation period should be taken into account.
  • Either put some IT tools or office furniture at the disposal of the employee in the same way as the employer would do if the employee is working at the office.

All home working allowances granted to employees need to be reported on the tax slip 281.10.

Until now, a lump sum allowance should be mentioned on the tax slip, without indicating the exact amount of the allowance. As of income year 2022, also the exact amount of the costs reimbursed to the employees will need to be reported. The same principle will in general become applicable for all types of allowances proper to the employer granted to employees (tax slip 281.10) as well as to directors (tax slip 281.20).

Important to note is that the circular letter has entered into force as of March 1, 2021. However, the Belgian tax authorities confirmed that the principles set out in the circular letter will be taken into account for the home working situations as of January 1, 2020.

In case you would like to gain more insights on how to apply these allowances in your company (whether or not in combination with other lump sum allowances), we are happy to assist you.

CORPORATE INCOME TAX

New fiscal support measures

As the pandemic continues, the Belgian government announced new fiscal support measurements, resulting in the fourth law introducing support measures in the framework of COVID-19, which meanwhile has been approved by Parliament. We will highlight two of the announced support measures, the corona tax-shelter bis and the introduction of a tax credit for commercial property landlords. Both measures aim at improving the liquidity position of small enterprises that are highly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tax credit for commercial rent waivers
A notable new measure is a tax incentive for commercial property landlords (both individuals and professionals) to forgive all or part of rent due for the months of March to May 2021, in the form of a 30% non-refundable and non-reportable tax credit, calculated on the amount of the rent waiver. The tenants must be either self-employed individuals (primary activity) or enterprises falling under the thresholds of a small enterprise or association, faced with a (partial) mandatory closure due to the pandemic. In addition, they must be registered and professionally active at the address of the rented premises (in Belgium).

There are two thresholds regarding the waived rent. The waiver may not exceed a monthly threshold of 5.000 euro per rental agreement (including recurring benefits such as property tax at the expense of the tenant) and 45.000 euro in total per landlord. These thresholds result in a maximum tax credit of 1.500 euro per contract and 13.500 euro per month. The total tax credit can hence add up to a maximum amount of 40.500 euro over the period of three months.

Remarkable is that this measure does not exclude restaurants that continued to provide takeaway services during the reference period. However, it does exclude enterprises that already defaulted on their rental payments on March 12, 2020.

Finally, the measure cannot be applied in case of a family relationship, a shareholder (> 30%) or other control relationship between tenant and landlord.

The second COVID-19 tax-shelter
The legislator introduced a tax-shelter last year specifically for enterprises that suffered substantial revenue losses due to COVID-19. A similar measure is now being introduced for investments in companies facing a loss of revenue of at least 30% during the period from November 2 to December 31, 2020 as compared to the same period of the previous year. The purpose is to encourage individuals to invest in companies in need of additional financial means due to the pandemic.

The conditions remain unchanged to the corona tax-shelter of last year. This measure concerns enterprises that do not exceed the thresholds to be considered as a small company (excluding real estate companies, financing and management companies).

There are also thresholds for this measure. Fully paid up capital investments in cash up to 100.000 euro during the period starting January 1 to August 31, 2021 will be eligible for a tax credit of 20%. However, to the extent the capital investment results in a participation exceeding 30 % of the companies’ equity, the tax credit will be limited accordingly. The tax credit is not refundable but transferable to the next three taxable periods. If the investment is not held for a period of 5 years, the tax credit can be claimed back proportionally.

Each company can raise funds up to an amount of maximum 250.000 euro under this tax-shelter regime. The funds can not be used to finance equity redemptions.

As opposed to the tax-shelter regime for scale-ups or start-ups, this tax shelter regime does allow a tax credit for capital investments by company directors (under the 30% threshold).

Interestingly, the tax credit can be combined with the tax incentive granted under the tax shelter regime for scale-ups or start-ups. Moreover, some companies can raise funds up to 1 million euro using a combination of several tax-shelters. More specifically, a scale-up company can attract a capital investment up to 500.000 euro under the tax-shelter for scale-ups and an additional 500.000 euro under the first and second COVID-19 tax-shelter if all conditions are met.

VAT

Belgium implements the EU VAT e-commerce package

With the law of 2 April 2021, the Belgian legislator is making profound changes to the VAT rules on e-commerce and ‘distance sales’ and implementing the EU legislation on these topics. This change should have been implemented last year but due to the Corona pandemic, Member States were given a postponement until 1 July 2021.

The aim is to simplify the VAT rules and to create rules that are workable for the new economic reality of e-commerce.

These are the most important changes.

Threshold for distance selling is abolished
The national threshold for distance selling is virtually abolished.

VAT on products sold via e-commerce will always be due in the country where the customer is established.

There is one exception (and ‘threshold’) when the foreign seller is a so-called ‘micro-company’, i.e. a foreign seller with an annual turnover which is less than 10.000,00 EUR and the company is established in only one EU-country, the micro-company can still opt to invoice local foreign VAT.

Uniformity in VAT for purchases from within and outside the EU
The logic behind the new rules is that the VAT is due in the country of the customer regardless of the value of the goods.

The current (until 1 July 2021 that is) exception that applies to small consignments with a value of up to EUR 22 will be abolished. The VAT can be paid through a unique VAT return (I-OSS-return). Because the VAT is paid on the sale, the actual import (crossing the border) is exempted from VAT. Also the customs procedure is simplified in these cases – the seller will have to mention his I-OSS number to clear the goods through Customs.

It is important to know that these rules are aimed at distance sales to a customer known at the moment of the import. The seller will have to explicitly opt to perform the sale through this unique I-OSS-return. Moreover, the intrinsic value of the good concerned may not exceed 150,00 EUR.

If these conditions are not met, the normal import rules and procedures are applicable.

Extension of the Mini One-Stop Shop of electronic services
The existing regime for electronic services, the so-called Mini One Stop Shop (MOSS), will be transformed into a broader One Stop Shop (OSS) system. The OSS system is an optional declaration and payment system. VAT taxpayers who develop activities for which they are liable for VAT in EU Member States where they are not established can use it. The OSS enables them to declare and pay the VAT due in respect of all EU Member States via a single electronic quarterly tax return.

It also removes the need for a seller to register automatically for VAT purposes if his annual turnover exceeds the aforementioned national threshold. The vendor can then remit the foreign VAT he received via the One Stop Shop declaration.

The OSS is already available on Intervat but only for transactions as from 1 July 2021.

Electronic market platforms considered as intermediaries in online transactions
As of 1 July 2021, electronic market platforms may in certain cases be considered as intermediaries in online transactions. The market platform is deemed to have purchased the goods itself and then resold them to the buyer. The rule applies both to goods shipped from outside the EU and to goods shipped from another EU country.

Obligation to keep transactional data
In order to avoid VAT fraud, the market platform is obliged to retain all transaction data for 10 years. This concerns the following data:

  • the name, address and email address or website of the supplier using the electronic interface to offer his goods or services;
  • if available: the VAT identification number or national tax number, bank account number or virtual account number of the supplier;
  • a description of the goods, their value, the place where dispatch or transport of the goods ends, the time of delivery and, if available, the order number or unique transaction number;
  • a description of the services, their value, information enabling the place and time of their provision, and, if available, the order number or unique transaction number.

This obligation will enter into force on 1 January 2024.

KEEP IN MIND THE DEADLINE !

VAT

  • VAT return April 2021 : before May 20, 2021

Corporate income tax

  • Forms 281.50 (calendar year 2020) : June 29, 2021

Personal income tax

  • Personal income tax return - Belgian residents

         o On paper : June 30, 2021
         o Via Tax-on-web : July 15, 2021
         o Via proxyholder (Tax-on-web) : October 21, 2021

Payroll

  • Wage withholding tax return (May 2021): before June 15, 2021
  • Second monthly prepayment for social security contributions Q2/2021 : June 5, 2021

Document

Mazars Info May 2021
Mazars Info May 2021