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Belgian report Belgian report
by Euro Reporter
2013-04-12 09:21:12
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Anger as Belgium plans to introduce motorway tax charge

Dutch motorists' organisation ANWB is up in arms about plans by Belgium to introduce a special tax for foreign motorway users to raise money for road repairs. Everyone with a foreign car planning to drive through Belgium by motorway would have to pay the tax, based on 10 days, two months or one year. The price has not yet been made public but the ANWB says the annual fee could be €100.

Belgium plans to use the money raised from the charge to carry out essential repairs to its road network. If agreed in the Belgian parliament, the charge will be introduced from 2016. The ANWB says the southern Dutch provinces of Zeeland, Noord-Brabant and Limburg will be hardest hit. The organisation is 'totally opposed to the explosion of toll systems and stickers needed to drive through Europe'. It is also unclear if the plan is compatible with EU legislation, ANWB director Guido van Woerkom said.


Large recruiters offer employees “temporary employment”

Staffing firms in Belgium have had a tough year in 2012 with activity levels in the recruitment industry falling for months. Even large players like Randstad and Adecco could not avert the downturn and are now forced to encourage some of their consultants to take “temporary unemployment.” The Belgian newspaper Standaard today reports that deteriorating market conditions have led to some staffing companies signing a collective agreement which will see hundreds of recruitment consultants staying at home for one or, in some cases, two days a week.

This is known as “part-time temporary employment”, allowing staffing firms to avoid layoffs. Only employees who volunteer to take part in the scheme will be affected by it. The temporary unemployment programme can be used by employers when they temporarily face economic troubles. The employees are then entitled to unemployment benefits. The newspaper reports that both Randstad and Adecco have signed up to the scheme. PR manager at Randstad Belgium, Renaud Dechamps, said: “We do this just for this quarter. We hope that after all the activity picks up again this summer.” According to him, hundreds of employees have volunteered to participate in the scheme. According to the latest market forecasts by Staffing Industry Analysts, the Belgian staffing industry is poised for marginal growth after last year’s slump but with anticipated growth coming during the second half of the year.

Temporary unemployment can be invoked for companies that have seen their turnover fall. Randstad reported in February that revenue per working day in Belgium fell -8% during the fourth quarter. Similarly,Adecco saw fourth-quarter revenue in the Benelux countries, which includes Belgium, drop by -6%. Herwig Muyldermans from the Belgian association of staffing companies said that firms want to retain their staff and are keen to avoid restructuring. The Belgian union LBC-NVK accepted the scheme,  and said that it was the only option to avoid restructuring.


Belgium's Special VAT Return May Be Submitted Online

The Belgian Finance Ministry has recently confirmed that the special value-added tax (VAT) return can now be filed electronically. The requirement to submit a special VAT return (tax form number 629) is provided for under article 53ter of the country's VAT Code. On the return, taxpayers provide details of intra-community acquisitions and certain services received. This information allows the tax authorities to determine the amount of VAT due.

The declaration is to be filed by taxable persons or by non-taxable legal persons, who do not submit regular monthly or quarterly VAT returns. Form 629 is to be filed no later than the 20th day of the month following the quarter to which the information relates. Taxpayers are not required to submit a special VAT return when, during the period in question, no operation giving rise to a VAT payment has been carried out.

From April 1, 2013, the special VAT return may be submitted electronically via the Intervat system. The benefits of submitting a return online are that taxpayers are notified of any errors or omissions during the encoding. Declarations are also sent securely and there is no need for prior registration or for software to be installed. Furthermore, taxpayers will also receive an acknowledgement. Although taxpayers may still opt to submit a paper return, the form has been modified. Taxpayers are requested to use the new form in future.


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