A guide to paying taxes in Belgium
How it works and where to get help
One way or the other: everyone has to pay their taxes. But when working in another country, there’s so many new rules and different practices that it’s often difficult to find the right way to go about it. As a reliable supporter of its candidates, Link2Europe offers advice on how to make the most of your annual tax bill.
In this article, we’ll cover:
- How taxes are paid in Belgium
- Difference in income tax between residents and non-residents
- Necessary documents to fill in the tax return
- Where to find help to file your tax return
Anywhere you work, you will have to pay taxes on your income. In return, especially when you live and work in Belgium, you get many social security benefits. So far so good. Yet how to fill in and file your income tax return is another matter. To see how you get to pay your taxes, please read on.
How taxes are paid in Belgium
Income taxes in Belgium are collected in two steps: the first part is automatically deducted from your wage and will be specified very clearly on your pay slip. The remainder of the taxes – if any – will be calculated the year following the tax year, after you file your yearly tax return.
From your wage
Your weekly or monthly pay slip will first of all mention the gross amount you earned. From that gross amount, 22,08% of income tax will be deducted immediately.
The goal of this percentage is to cover the total of your due income tax. It is deducted weekly or monthly to avoid that the full amount has to be paid at once, after your yearly tax return.
With the tax return
With the tax return, the Belgian government will check whether the due income tax was paid. They also provide plenty of opportunities to deduct costs from your total income, thus lowering your taxable income. And a lower taxable income means less due taxes.
What income will be taxed
The total income that will be considered in your tax return consists of:
- your wage
- holiday money
- (temporary) unemployment benefits
any other replacement income
There are numerous ways to deduct certain costs from your gross income to lower the taxes you have to pay. Items you can deduct from your income are for example:
- kids under your care and the costs of their day-care
- if you are married and your spouse is dependent of you
- pension savings contributions
- the capital repayment of a mortgage loan
Smartly put, there is a lot to gain from professional help in filing your annual tax return! But first, let’s have a look at whether you will be taxed as a resident or not.
Difference between residents and non-residents
Whether you are officially registered in Belgium or not, makes a difference for the Belgian fiscal authority.
You are an official resident in Belgium when you have registered with your municipality, be it a village or a big city. Depending on the date of your registration or the amount of days you work in Belgium, you will receive a different return form.
Are you registered in a Belgian municipality?
you will receive a tax bill for inhabitants
> if you worked less than 183 days in Belgium, you will be taxed in your home country unless you do register within 3 months after arrival (in this case you will be taxed as a non-resident up to the day you register after which you will be taxed as a resident).
> if you worked more than 183 days in Belgium, you will be taxed in Belgium as a non-resident
For example, if you started working in Belgium on November 1st 2020, and you registered at your local community in January 2021, you will receive:
1. A tax return for non-residents for the fiscal year of 2020 (because you registered within 3 months), and
2. a tax return for residents for your work in 2021.
The main difference? The date you have to submit your tax return*.
You will receive a brown paper envelope with the return form you have to fill in. You can do this either on the paper form – it also has an explanatory booklet – or online on MyMinfin (Tax-on-web).
As a resident, you will have to file your tax return:
- on paper by 30 June
- or online by 15 July
- or if you have an authorized representative (f.ex. accountant) do this for you: by October 20th
As a non-resident, you will have to file your tax return on 22 January – be it on paper, online or through an authorized representative.
*Please note that every year, dates might slightly change. Please check the accompanying letter with your tax return.
Be aware of the due dates! If you are too late to file the return, you can and probably will be fined or have to pay higher taxes.
Non-residents, register first!
When you come to Belgium as a non-resident to earn your first Belgian income, you need to register online with the Finance department. Only then will you receive a tax form.
Apart from this, whether you fill in a resident’s or a non-resident’s tax return, your taxes will be calculated according to the same rules.
Necessary documents to fill in the tax return
Now on to what documents and certificates you need to correctly fill in your income tax return. Usually you will simply receive them by post or email. Make it easy on yourself and keep all of them together in a box!
Documents regarding your income
- Salary statement: Every employer you worked for will send you a fiche 281.10. This certificate will specify which amounts to enter in what boxes.
Holiday money certificate: From the Rijksdienst voor Jaarlijkse Vakantie
Unemployment benefit statement: In case you received unemployment benefits. From your labour union or the Hulpkas voor Werkloosheidsuitkeringen
End-of-year bonus: From the Sociaal Fonds voor de Uitzendkrachten
Illness or occupational injury benefit statement
All these sources of income will be combined and used as a baseline to calculate your due income tax from. However, there are plenty of ways to reduce this baseline:
If you own real estate
The Belgian government supports people who want to buy or own their own house or apartment. Documents that can help you reduce your tax bill, are:
- The annual bill for the property tax (précompte immobilier or onroerende voorheffing)
- If you have a mortgage:
- First year only: the bank certificate with mortgage details
- Annual mortgage payment certificate
- Mortgage insurance premium certificate
Documents that justify deductible expenses
Other justifiable deductible expenses you can use, are:
- Premium(s) paid for life insurance by way of long-term saving
- Contributions paid for pension saving
- Expenses for titres-service / dienstencheques
- Child care payments
- Child maintenance contributions / certificate of co-parenting arrangement
- Personal contribution to public transport season ticket
- Tax-deductible donations
- Your personal contribution to the mutuelle / ziekenfonds
Other useful documents
Bank account number: to receive the refund if too much taxes have been deducted from your wage already
Proof of changes in the family situation (marriage, divorce, …)
Name and date of birth of dependent children
Identity of other dependents
Help to fill in your income tax return
Correctly filling in your tax bill, taking into account every possibility to reduce your taxes is a specialty on its own. At Link2Europe, we are specialists in finding you a job, not in filing tax returns. But you can rely on us to help you find help!
There are different ways to get help in filing your income tax:
- Consult the information on the webpages of the Belgian Finance Department: All government information is laid out there, including links to information in Dutch, French and German.
- The Belgian finance department also offers free online help and is available for calls.
- Many municipalities will organize free sessions to help you with filling in the form; get in touch with your municipal administration to see if and when this is planned.
- The best advice, however, to use any optimization to the fullest, is to work with an accountant who speaks your language and is also familiar with the situation in your home country. Contact us for:
- a knowleagable accountant
- a company in your homecountry that will help you to claim potential tax refunds
So what are you waiting for? Ready to come and work in Belgium? Check out Link2Europe’s job offers today!