Economic stimulus plan
Last update: 20 August 2013 - 11:00 CET
The Government wants to encourage start-ups, make life easier for them and improve protection for independent/self-employed professionals. To do so, the following measures have been included in the stimulus plan.
Warranty will be abolished
The Council of Ministers has decided on a series of economic growth measures, one of which is the abolishment of the deposit for the license to defer import VAT to the VAT return (so-called ET. 14.000 license). This measure has been published in the Official Gazette of 24 June 2013.
In the past, companies importing goods in Belgium could choose between two methods for paying the import VAT due:
- Pay import VAT due upon customs clearance; the paid import VAT is recovered in the next VAT return. This payment method is under the new legislation still possible.
- Declare import VAT due via their periodic VAT return; in the same VAT return this import VAT also is declared as recoverable. The second method is often used by importing companies in order to prevent cash flow and pre-financing, whereby the import VAT due is reported as payable and as deductible in the same VAT return.
Former legislation, when compared to several other countries and the Netherlands in particular, created a disadvantage since companies needed to make a deposit in order to obtain an import VAT deferral license (so-called E.T. 14.000 license). This deposit equaled 1/24th of import VAT due from the previous year. In addition, the warranty had to be adjusted at the beginning of each calendar year, based on the actual import VAT reported during the previous calendar year. The Belgian Government had decided to abolish the warranty payment and by publishing the Royal Decree of 13 June 2013 this measure has actually been abolished (Dutch | French).
Extension to ‘global’ VAT numbers
At the same time as the warranty’s abolishment, it was announced that the import VAT deferral license would be extended to ‘global’ VAT representatives.
‘Global’ VAT representatives dispose of a special VAT number (starting with BE 796.5 or BE 796.6) allowing them to simultaneously represent several non-resident companies carrying out operations in Belgium. The regime can only be applied in certain types of transactions (e.g. imports followed by a subsequent intra-EC supply).
These global representatives were not allowed to request such the above mentioned E.T.14.000-license, implying that where VAT was due on the imports, this VAT had to be paid in cash upon customs clearance. In order to further support activities in Belgian harbours, this license is now extended to ‘global VAT numbers’.
Deferral license for one-off imports
The new legislation makes it also possible to obtain a license for a single import transaction. Under the old rules, the companies could only obtain the E.T.14.000 license if they imported on a regularly basis goods into Belgium from outside the European Union. This ‘requirement’ has been abolished which means that a company can avoid pre-financing for a single import transaction.
By taking all these measures the Government aims to support import traffic through Belgian harbours. All these measures are published in the Royal Decree of 13 June 2013, published in the Official Gazette of 24 June 2013 (Dutch | French). 4 July 2013 is the date on which the rules enter into force.
Stating that an efficiently working customs authority is essential for a country's competitiveness, the Government wants to improve its functioning through a customs action plan.
Tax legislation is an important pillar for the enhancement of commercial competitiveness and the facilitation of job creation. However, due to the introduction of specific, exception and tax expenditure measures, Belgian taxation has become increasingly complex. The Government wants to reverse this trend by simplifying tax legislation and administration.
The Minister of Finance will have the task of launching and executing projects towards the simplification of rules and procedures in relation to fiscal matters. He will be assigned with the continued development of electronic taxation and will also have bring transparency to the legislation.
As part of their stimulus plan, the Government wants to improve access to funding for companies, SME's in particular. The plan outlines several financial measures, in addition to a tax credit which aims at encouraging companies to issue bonds.
The precise workings of the above measure and the other financial measures will be clarified during the next budgetary negotiations.