To enhance the fight against VAT fraud in the field of cross-border e-commerce transactions, Belgium has adopted on 23 March 2023 the law requiring payment service providers to keep detailed records of transactions involving online merchants and pass them on to the Belgian tax authorities.
Since the decisions of the European Court of Justice in the so-called “Danish cases”, passive income streams are being scrutinized more than ever across Europe. This is not different in Belgium, where we have seen a substantial increase in tax audits focusing on passive income streams where withholding tax is being claimed also in the framework of business-driven structures.
Various new corporate income tax measures entered into force in Belgium as of 1 January 2023, the most impactful being a temporary increase of the minimum corporate tax base under the so-called “basket rule”. This measure will be in force until the European Minimum Tax Directive (Pillar Two) is implemented into Belgian legislation and takes effect (in principle as of 1 January 2024).
As a follow-up on the second Action Plan for the fight against social and tax fraud, a bill was recently submitted to the Belgian Chamber of Representatives, which contains a number of relevant tax controversy measures. Amongst the main measures is a significant extension of the tax investigation and assessment periods for income taxes and VAT. Overall, the bill significantly extends the powers of the Belgian tax authorities and limits to a certain extent the taxpayer’s procedural rights.
Interested parties could, until 6 April 2022, provide their views to the EU Commission regarding the so-called Unshell proposal or ATAD 3. Many will have flagged the uncertainties about certain concepts and the need for more clarifications while others will also have indicated more substantial issues such as possible non-compatibility with EU Law. It remains to be seen whether the EU Commission will take (some of) these comments on board. Meanwhile, international groups should not rest on their laurels because it is likely that the Proposal will be adopted (as is or in an amended form) but rather start screening the European affiliates in their corporate structure, to identify possible issues under ATAD 3 and look for possible remedies.