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The Belgian tax return is coming

Last Updated on April 28, 2019 by Mr. FightToFIRE

It’s that time of the year again. Time to fill in my tax return and either get some money back at the end of the ride or pay some additional taxes. It’s not open yet but I expect it to be in the coming days. Based on the info I could find online, it’ll most likely be 2 May.

Since the tax return is always such a joy to fill in, I figured I go over the most important things to check as a retail investor. One of the new and important changes this year is the possibility to recuperate the withholding tax (WT) (Dutch: Roerende Voorheffing or RV) on dividends.

On 3 April, the government published information about the 2019 tax return (income year 2018). It now contains the box that allows you to recover the WT of 30% on the dividends received from shares in 2018. Box VII – income from capital and movable property under code 1437 – 18 & 2437 – 85 (box  VII, A, 1, b) is intended for this purpose.

Notice that in this box you cannot enter the amount of dividends received in 2018 (max. 640 EUR / taxpayer), but you must enter the amount of the WT to be recovered (max. 192 EUR / taxpayer), in other words 640 x 30%. Since not all share dividends are subject to the 30% RD you should first reclaim the 30% WT before reclaiming 15%.

(more below the image)

Brace yourself, tax returns are coming
Its that time of the year again for us Belgians. Time to fill in our tax return.
Forecast tax returns 2019 (starting 2 May)
The forecast for 2019 by the tax authorities. The text in Dutch specifies the deadlines for the paper (Friday 28 June) and online tax return (Thursday 11 July).

Get that thirty first

15% is for specific REITs such as Aedifica that I have in my portfolio (and Care Property). Again, when filing your tax return, it is best to clear up which have a 30% WT.
E.g., if you received 740 EUR last year, of which 500 EUR is subject to the 30% WT and 240 EUR to 15%, take the 30% first, i.e. the 500 EUR. That gives you 150 EUR. The remaining 140 EUR gives you 21 EUR. Together this gives you 171 EUR.

In any case, you must start from the gross amount of 640 EUR. You should also know dividends of cooperative shares are now included in this amount. These can therefore no longer be declared separately.

No bank support

For the time being, it does not seem that the banks/brokers will be obliged to provide you with a tax certificate with the dividends received. It will, therefore, depend on the goodwill of your financial institution whether you get an overview or have to generate it yourself.

Even if it’s not mandatory, it would be nice if your bank or broker provided you with an overview that shows you exactly how many dividends you received in 2018. Unfortunately, this will not be the case (for the time being). I guess that would make it too easy.

Since we can’t expect any real support and the government expects us to fill it in ourselves, do not forget to check the boxes! Especially if you get a proposal for a simplified tax return as I got for the first time last year, be sure to fill in the correct field. It can bring in up to 192 EUR.

Unexpected behavior

This new regulation has a strange side effect. Because it excludes (active or passive) funds and you can only reclaim individual stock dividends, the government is (partially) pushing investors to more risky investments.

By offering a fiscal advantage only on dividends from listed shares and on those from cooperative shares, the government is pushing savers towards investment products that should not be a first stock market investment for everyone.
It would be better to extend the benefit to dividends from (active or passive) investment funds. These offer good diversification, which is not the case with individual shares.

Other things to remember

While the biggest change is the tax deduction for dividends, there are a few other things you should remember when filling in your taxes this year. I’ll give a small explanation below.

Investing in shares of growth companies

If you invested in a growth company in 2018, you are entitled to a tax reduction of 25%. A growth company is a company that exists between 4 and 10 years and whose annual turnover or workforce has increased by at least 10%/year in the last year.
You must indicate the amount invested in code 1334 or 2334 (box X, II, h). The tax authorities calculate the tax benefit themselves based on this information.

This benefit is added (max. 100,000 EUR/year) to the investments in start-ups and can never exceed 25,000 EUR. If the benefit is higher than the tax, you will lose the part that exceeds the tax.

Multiple securities? (for the check if you have more than 500K EUR)

If you were a holder of more than one securities account over the course of 2018, the tax authorities expect you to tick the box next to code 1072 or 2072 (box XIV, E).

This is intended to facilitate the control of the securities tax (0.15% on the total amount if it’s above 500,000 EUR). All securities accounts are taken into account, even if there are no or only a few securities on them. Many taxpayers who receive a proposal for a simplified tax return (such as yours truly) will have to correct it and supplement it with this new code, even if there is no securities tax to pay.

Pension savings: 960 EUR vs. 1230 EUR

Last year was the first time you could deposit 960 EUR (and get a fiscal benefit of 30%) or deposit a higher amount, 1230 EUR (get a fiscal benefit of 25%). Double check this amount in code 1361 or 2361 (box X, II, e).

Remember that the moment you deposit more than 960 EUR in your pension fund, you only receive the 25% refund on the total amount and not 30%.

I'm a developer for a major financial institution in Belgium that is present in over 40 countries. I have over 8 years of working experience in the development of customer applications focussing on all aspects of banking. This helped me gain a deep understanding of the inner workings of a commercial bank. All of this experience in both banking and life culminates in this blog about personal finance and my fight towards FIRE.

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Daniel Branco

Hello Mr.FF, I moved to Belgium recently and need to start investing again. But I’m afraid of failing when doing the belastingbrief. In Portugal I used to use Degiro and here I want to use it again, do you also use degiro?

Cheers,
Daniel

Gayathri

Hello Mr. Fight to Fire. That was a one off article on the Belgian tax reform. Your gentle reminder on various aspects of the tax filing was extraordinary. Thank you for your warning on the new change of claiming individual stock dividends making investor think twice about investments.

Kenneth

wow this article made me realize that i forgot to add my pension savings when filling in my tax letter.
Luckily i have still time to make adjustments!

Jakob

Hello and thaNks for this excellent overview – once question which relates to inline brokers like DEGIRO located outside Belgium: I’ve read that for each sale of shares, it needs to be declared in the tax declaration – is that correct ? That sounds quite burdensome if so. Many thanks !

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