Expat tax clampdown to grab £20million a year – with exemption for those who work at EU

British expats discuss shop opening times in France

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A new system proposed by the Belgium Government for 2022 aims to bring in an additional €24.5 million (£20,720,875) annually by replacing the older system of expat tax benefits. The current system allows certain write-offs on taxable income that about 20,000 expats took advantage of.

Local media outlets reported the rough estimates of the overhauled system ahead of the Government’s presentation of the 2022 budget.

Under the new proposal, expat deductions would be scrapped and replaced with a fixed 30 percent deduction, capped at €90,000 (£76,117.50), on taxable income for work-related expenses.

It also nearly doubles the minimum annual salary threshold to benefit from the regime, from around €40,000 (£33,830) to €75,000 (£63,442.12).

The finance ministry said the changes aim to limit the write-off benefits to high earners so that Belgium isn’t at a competitive disadvantage compared to neighbouring countries, especially among “decision-maker profiles”.

However, expats who work at EU institutions will continue to be exempt from Belgian income tax, paying instead a “community tax” of between 8 and 45 percent.

Belgium’s Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced the tax reforms in an effort to balance the country’s budget on Tuesday.

He added: “We have come to a very broad package of measures, with a number of very drastic decisions.”

Finance Minister Vincent Van Peteghem said: “We are tackling an outdated tax measure.”

Gunther Valkenborg, lawyer at the firm Loyens and Loeff, also told Politico: “This statute was created not to hand out gifts to employees, but to offer breathing room for employers attracting top international [talent].”

As of 2020, expats in Belgium numbered 1.4 million people which is about 14 percent of the population.

In 2018, there were around 21,250 British people living in Belgium according to Statista.

In October 2020, the Belgian council of ministers approved a proposal allowing British expats to apply for the right to residence with only a current identity card and details of their criminal record.

Sammy Mahdi (CD&V), secretary of state for asylum and migration, proposed the amendment.

His office said at the time: “These expats should not become the victims of Brexit.

“With the amendment of the Aliens Act, the secretary of state wants to offer expats legal certainty.

“For example, the companies involved, often NGOs or international organisations, should not be afraid that their employees will be expelled from the country.”

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It comes after Belgium joined France and nine other EU countries in condemning Britain’s approach to post-Brexit fishing access.

The countries are angry that the UK has set high barriers for fishermen to get licences, which they say goes beyond the deal struck between the two countries.

In a joint statement, the 11 EU states said the geolocation requirement for new licences to fish in British waters “is not provided for in the deal, and is not required by European regulations”.

French minister Clement Beaune said: “The European Union scrupulously implements the agreement it reached with the United Kingdom. We expect the same from Britain.”

It also comes after Spain has rejected 2,400 applications for temporary residence from British expats.

The head of citizen help group Brexpats, Anne Hérnandez, said the most common reason is insufficient proof they have been legally living in the country.

She told The Local: “Applications are mostly being rejected on the grounds of insufficient evidence of legally residing in Spain in 2020, such as a Padrón (town hall registration), medical insurance or other proof people were actually living here before 2021.”

Mark McMillan from Sun Lawyers in Alicante explained: “Problems arise when people do not provide enough evidence of legally residing in Spain before the end of 2020.”

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