Belgium

The national currency is the Euro (EUR). In 2020, EUR 0.88 was equal to USD 1. The Secretariat has estimated that in that same year the average worker earned EUR 47 720 (Secretariat estimate).

Spouses are taxed separately. As from 2004, the principle of separate taxation applies to all categories of income. A non-earning spouse is taxed separately on a notional share of income that can be transferred to him or her (see “non-earning spouse allowance”, below). Married couples nonetheless file joint income tax returns.

Unless stated otherwise, social insurance contributions are deductible from gross income.

Salaried employees are entitled to a standard deduction for work-related expenses; this is equal to 30% of gross income (less social insurance contributions) and may not exceed EUR 4 880 per spouse.

For self-employed professionals:

Self-employed professionals are entitled to a standard deduction for work-related expenses. This deduction may under no circumstances exceed EUR 4 880 per spouse.

Paid company directors are also entitled to a standard deduction for work-related expenses; this is equal to 3% of gross income (less social insurance contributions) and may not exceed EUR 2 580 per spouse.

An additional allowance may be granted to wage-earners if their workplace is more than a certain distance from their home.

Actual expenses incurred in order to acquire or retain earned income are deductible if they exceed the standard deduction. The deductibility of certain categories of work-related expenses (cars, clothing, restaurant meals and business gifts) is limited, however. Taxpayers who report actual expenses may deduct EUR 0.24 per kilometre, up to 100 km per single journey, for travel between their home and their workplace by means other than private car.

A notional amount of income can be transferred between spouses if one of them earns no more than 30% of the couple’s combined earned income. In this case, the amount transferred is limited to 30% of aggregate net earned income, less the individual income of the spouse to whom the notional share is transferred. This allowance is limited to EUR 11 090.

The base amount is: 8 990. These amounts vary with regards to the family situation. Additional exemptions for dependent children (a handicapped child counts as two children):

  • 1 child: 1 630

  • 2 children: 4 210

  • 3 children: 9 430

  • 4 children: 15 250

  • > 4 children: 5 820 per additional child

Dependent child exemptions in excess of available income give rise to a reimbursable tax credit. This reimbursable tax credit is calculated at the marginal rate for the spouse with the highest income and capped at EUR 470 per dependent child.

Additional special exemptions are also granted for certain household members (in euro):

  • Other dependants: 1 630

  • Handicapped / handicapped spouse: 1 630

  • Other handicapped dependants: 1 630

  • Widow(er) with dependent child(ren): 1 630

  • Single father or mother: 1 630

These additional exemptions are applied first to the taxable income of the spouse having the most income, with any remainder then being applied to the income of the other spouse.

The basic exemption plus any additional exemptions for dependants and single parents is applied against each bracket from the bottom up; in other words, the lowest brackets are depleted first.

The basic exemption plus any additional exemptions is applied from the bottom up.

With the implementation of the sixth state reform, the Flemish Region, the Walloon Region and the Brussels-Capital Region have been delegated several important competences with regard to the individual income tax. As a result of this reform, as from 1 July 2014, the regional competences are:

  • the possibility to levy surcharges on the federal PIT (the supplementary regional tax on the personal income tax). The surcharge may be proportional or vary with income but there are limits to ensure that the tax remains progressive);

  • to grant (on the result of the surcharges) tax discounts;

  • to grant tax reductions, tax increases and tax credits;

  • to regulate exclusively some tax reductions.

Under the new tax model, the assumed federal income tax amount must first be calculated. The taxable base is reduced by the exempt income (see 1.1.2.4.), the tax credits for pensions, unemployment, sickness and other social benefits and the tax credit for income taxed abroad. Additionally, it is reduced by the tax due on passive income for which the Federal State remains exclusively competent.

The remaining PIT liability is then split between the federal government and Regions according to a ratio of 24.957% for the regional PIT and 75.043% for the Federal PIT. Expressed as % of the federal PIT, the basic rate of the regional surcharge equals 33.257%. (0.24957/(1-0.24957)). Regions may change the rate of the surcharge. This surcharge may vary per tax bracket, within certain limits

The modelling relies on the parameters that apply in the Brussels-capital Region. The actual regional rate is set at 32.591% (Brussels-Capital rate).

The starting point for the calculation of the municipal (and agglomeration) surcharges is the individual income tax ("impôt total", i.e. the sum of federal PIT and regional PIT), before taking into account the surcharge resulting from insufficient prepayments, the foreign tax credit, federal and regional reimbursable tax credits (among others for children and for low-income workers), advanced payments and withholding taxes. The rate of this local surtax is set by each municipality, and there is no upper limit

The calculation of the regional and local surtax for the average worker study assumes that the worker lives in the Region of Brussels-Capital. The weighted average local surtax of the 19 municipalities which form the Brussels-Capital Region is 6.4%. The additional surcharge of 1% levied in the Brussels-Capital Region, in addition to the municipal surcharge, is abolished as from income year 2016.

Refundable tax credit for low-income workers

A refundable tax credit is intended for low-income workers and company managers (subject to the employees’ social security system) entitled to the employment bonus.

The refundable tax credit amounts to 33.14% as of 1st January 2020 of the "employment bonus" which is actually granted on remunerations earned during the taxable period. It cannot exceed EUR 830 per taxable period.

a) Payroll deductions

The rates of employer and employee contributions are set by law. The applicable rates (in %) are as follows (for businesses having 20 or more employees) :

The schedule applicable as from 01.01.2020 is as follows:

The schedule applicable as from 01.07.2020 is as follows:

Vacation pay is not subject to the social security contributions applicable to salaries, but a social security levy of 13.07% is deducted when the money is attributed.

b) Reduction of employer contributions

The schedule applicable as from 01.01.2019 is as follows:

The schedule applicable as from 01.04.2020 is as follows:

c) Reduction of individual social security contributions

A reduction of individual social security contributions is granted monthly for low-income earners, depending on wage level. The schedule below is restated in annual terms.

The schedule applicable as from 01.09.2018 is as follows:

The schedule applicable as from 01.03.2020 is as follows:

d) Special social security contribution

All persons totally or partially subject to the social security scheme for salaried workers are liable for this special contribution. In theory, the amount of the contribution is determined according to aggregate household income. Aggregate household income is equal to combined gross earnings less ordinary social security contributions and work-related expenses. The special social security contribution is not deductible for PIT purposes. The amount of the contribution is as follows:

e) Work accidents

All employers are required to insure their employees against accidents that occur in the workplace or while travelling to or from the workplace. The insurance is written by a private company. The premiums depend on the wage level as well as on sectoral risk indicators. A minimum (+/- 14% of AW in 2018) and maximum (89% of AW) wage applies. The usual premiums are approximately 1% of the capped gross pay for office workers and 3.3% for labourers. Higher rates apply in certain industries in which risks are greater. The premium rate for construction workers, for example, varies between 7% and 8%.

None.

With the implementation of the sixth state reform, the Flemish Region, the Walloon Region and the Brussels-Capital Region have been delegated family allowances. We only indicates the changes that have been implemented in the Brussels-capital region. Those apply from 1st January 2020

The previous system (hereafter “the old system”) is to a large extend grandfathered. For the children born before 31th December 2019, if the old family allowance system is most advantageous than the new system, the old system still applies if the composition of the family has not been changed. The comparison is made per family and not per child and only takes into account only the basic amounts and not the annual supplements.

The Taxing Wages calculations assume that one child is aged between seven and ten years and that the other child is aged between eleven and twelve years.

Under the new system, family benefits consist in basic amount, age supplements, an income-related supplement and a single parent supplement.

The basic annual amount per child is set at EUR 1 830.00 (But if the child is born before 1st January 2020, the amount is reduced by EUR 122.00 until 31th December 2025).

Age supplement:

Number of children and income-related supplement, per child: (S = Gross income, net of deductible social security contributions)

Single parent supplement, per child:

Annual supplement, per child

Family allowances are granted for children. The annual amounts of these benefits (in euro) are as follows:

The “tax shift” has been decided in 2015 and is shifting the taxation from labour to other bases, including mainly consumption and income from savings. The reform is phased over the 2015-2019 period. The main changes are the following

  • Employers’ social security contributions will be reduced to 25%. Reductions will be abolished, apart from the reduction for low wage earners that will be gradually increased.

  • On the side, the reform increases the standard deduction for work related expenses for wage earners and the zero-rate band. The tax schedule will also be modified: the 25% will be extended to the previous upper limit of the 30% bracket, so that the former 30% bracket will disappear. The tax credit for low wage earners will also be increased.

Although no specific covid-19 measures have a direct impact on labour taxation as modelled in the Taxing Wages publication, some have an impact on payment facilities:

  • The covid-19 measures in Belgium include improved deferred social security contribution (SSC) payments plans (Amicable repayment plans)1. Such repayment plans already existed and are still on demand, but access is made easier and conditions smoother. In principle all companies with covid related financial problems can claim the deferral with respect to 2020 SSC-payments.

  • Regarding PIT, no particular measures apply to PIT assessments of employees. However a covid measure provides for a lower rate of the earned income withholding tax (EIWT) for unemployment benefits of temporary unemployed employees. Since the PIT rate schedule itself remains unchanged, the total PIT due is not altered. But lower EIWT paid at source amounts to a partial postponement of payment.2

  • On top of several cases in which employers must not transmit all collected earned income withholding tax (EIWT) to the Treasury, a new covid measure supporting companies retaining temporary unemployed employees was introduced. There already existed different types and conditions for such wage subsidies (e.g. with respect to night and shift work or for researchers)3.

The Average Wage is based on an annual survey conducted by the Statbel division of the Ministry of Economy. The survey is limited to enterprises with at least 10 employees. A two step approach is applied: first the participating employers are selected, then the surveyed employees (sampling ratio of 5% to 7%). All employees are covered by the survey but the estimate of the Average Wage is restricted to data of full time employees only.  The reference period is October but survey data is combined with social insurance registers to obtain annual earnings. If applicable, the earnings of full time employees not employed during the entire year, are uplifted proportionally to obtain annual estimates.  Annual earnings include bonuses, vacation and overtime pay, but no fringe benefits.

2020 Parameter values

2020 Tax Equations

The equations for the Belgian system in 2020 are mostly calculated on an individual basis. But central government tax for a married couple is calculated on two bases and the lower value is used. One of the bases takes account of the combined income of the couple. Also, tax credits may be used against the tax liability of the secondary earner if the principal earner is unable to use them.

The functions which are used in the equations (Taper, Tax etc.) are described in the technical note about tax equations. Variable names are defined in the table of parameters above or are the standard variables "married" and "children". A reference to a variable with the affix "total" indicates the sum of the relevant variable values for the principal and spouse. And the affixes "princ" and "spouse" indicate the value for the principal and spouse respectively. Equations for a single person are as shown for the principal with "_spouse" values taken as 0.

Metadata, Legal and Rights

This document, as well as any data and map included herein, are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name of any territory, city or area. Extracts from publications may be subject to additional disclaimers, which are set out in the complete version of the publication, available at the link provided.

© OECD 2021

The use of this work, whether digital or print, is governed by the Terms and Conditions to be found at http://www.oecd.org/termsandconditions.