Belgian tax authorities plan to pay special attention to foreign bank account holders

The Belgian tax authorities have announced plans to pay special attention this year to the tax returns of residents who have bank accounts abroad.

The measure is one of a set of priorities announced today which involve checking up on matters which taxpayers are supposed to declare voluntarily, whether individuals or businesses. Others include payments received from abroad, payments claimed as alimony or child support, income from properties rented out for professional ends and failing to submit a tax declaration.

For businesses, special attention will be paid to sums claimed as business expenses, income from abroad, sizeable one-time claims for exceptional costs, creation of a holding company with increase or reduction of capital, and in general, company accounts which show anomalies when compared to other similar businesses in the same sector.

“We aim to achieve equitable treatment,” the finance ministry says on its website. “In order to achieve this, we will select individuals and enterprises on the basis of an indication of a higher fiscal risk.”

However, to prevent anyone thinking they may not be audited, the ministry warns, “As well as these specific points, we will of course carry out other checks on the tax situation of individuals and enterprises.”

The tax authorities suspect that around half of all residents who are subject to the Belgian tax regime and have a foreign bank account have not declared it, based on a previous audit in which it was found that of 364,000 account holders, some 200,000 had not declared it. That involved a loss of income, the ministry says, to the Belgian state.

Many foreign residents have received a communication from the finance ministry asking about foreign bank accounts, according to reports on social media. In many cases, the question relates to dormant accounts left open when the person moved to Belgium. Such cases, where there is no interest generated, have no fiscal consequences, although the letter of the law requires the account to be declared.

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