VAT, GST and Sales Tax in Belgium

Summary

Name of the tax Value-added tax (VAT)
Local names Belasting over de toegevoegde waarde (BTW), Taxe sur la valeur ajoutée (TVA)
Date introduced 1-Jan-71
Trading bloc membership European Union Member State
Administered by Belgian Ministry of Finance (http://www.minfin.fgov.be)
VAT rates
Standard 21%
Reduced 6%, 12%
Other Zero-rated, exempt and exempt with credit
VAT number format From 1 January 2008, the taxable person should use: Prefix: BE
10 digits: ZNNN.NNN.NNN,  Z = 0 or 1, N = figure from 0 to 9
VAT return periods Monthly for all VAT-registered persons but quarterly for those whose total annual turnover (VAT exclusive) does not exceed EUR2.5 million (EUR250,000 for specific business sector) and whose quarterly intra-EU supplies do not exceed EUR50,000
Thresholds
Registration None
Distance selling EUR35,000
Intra-Community acquisitions EUR11,200 (for exempt taxable persons)
Recovery of VAT by non-established businesses Yes

Scope of the tax

VAT applies to the following transactions:

  • The supply of goods or services made in Belgium by a taxable person
  • The intra-Community acquisition of goods from another Member State by a taxable person (see the chapter on the EU)
  • The importation of goods from outside the EU, regardless of the status of the importer

Special rules apply to intra-Community transactions involving new means of transport (see the chapter on the EU) and to the supply of new buildings and the surrounding building land.

Who is liable

A taxable person is any business entity or individual that makes taxable supplies of goods or services or intra-Community acqui­sitions or distance sales in Belgium.

No VAT registration threshold applies in Belgium. A taxable person that begins activity in Belgium must notify the Belgian VAT authorities by means of form 604A.

Special rules apply to foreign or “non-established businesses.”

Group registration. Effective from 1 April 2007, VAT grouping is permitted under the Belgian VAT law. VAT grouping is an option for Belgian businesses and Belgian branch offices of foreign businesses. The option to create a VAT group is subject to various conditions. Businesses must be financially, economically and organizationally linked with each other in order to form a VAT group. Subsidiaries in which the parent company owns more than 50% of their share capital must normally be included in the VAT group if the parent is a member. Specific rules exist regarding VAT adjustments when creating a VAT group. Transactions within a VAT group are disregarded for VAT purposes. However, in certain cases, these intragroup transactions may still be subject to VAT. Members must remain part of the VAT group for at least three years.

Non-established businesses. A “non-established business” is a business that does not have a seat of business or a fixed establish­ment in Belgium. A non-established business that makes supplies of goods or services in Belgium must register for VAT purposes in one or more of the following situations:

  • Taxable transactions in Belgium for which it is liable to pay the Belgian VAT due
  • Intra-Community acquisitions of goods in Belgium
  • Intra-Community supplies of goods from Belgium
  • Imports of goods, followed by the supply of the same goods
  • Certain transactions in connection with a VAT warehouse
  • Distance sales in excess of the threshold

Under the reverse-charge mechanism, the Belgian recipient of goods or services receiving the supplies must account for the Belgian VAT due instead of the non-established supplier. If this reverse charge applies to all the transactions of a non-established business in Belgium, it is in principle not possible for the latter to be VAT registered in Belgium, except in specific cases (for example, an import followed by a local sale subject to the reverse-charge measure). In certain other situations and provided that the conditions are fulfilled, a non-established business can still opt to register for Belgian VAT purposes.

The reverse charge generally applies to supplies made by non-established businesses to the following:

  • Taxable persons established in Belgium that file periodic VAT returns in Belgium
  • Non-established businesses that are registered for VAT and have appointed a fiscal representative in Belgium

Tax representatives. Businesses that are established in the EU may register for VAT without appointing a tax representative. However, EU businesses may opt to directly register for VAT purposes or appoint a tax representative under certain conditions.

Businesses that are established outside the EU must appoint a resident tax representative to register for Belgian VAT. The tax representative is jointly and severally liable for VAT debts with the business that it represents.

All non-established businesses must register with the Central VAT Office for Foreign Taxpayers (in Dutch, Centraal BTW­kantoor voor Buitenlandse Belastingplichtigen; in French, Bureau central de TVA pour Assujettis Etrangers) at this address:

Centraal BTW-kantoor voor Buitenlandse Belastingplichtigen

Dienst btw registratie – Financietoren Kruidtuinlaan 50 bus 3410

1000 Brussels

Belgium

If a complete file has been submitted and no additional questions are raised, it takes approximately one to four months for a Belgian VAT ID number to be granted to a foreign business.

Reverse charge. Under the reverse-charge mechanism, the Belgian recipient of goods or services must account for the Belgian VAT due instead of the non-established supplier. If this reverse charge applies to all the transactions of a non-established business in Belgium, it is in principle not possible for the latter to be VAT-registered in Belgium, except in specific cases (for example, an import followed by a local sale subject to the reverse-charge measure). In certain other situations and provided that the conditions are fulfilled, a non-established business can still opt to register for Belgian VAT purposes.

The reverse charge generally applies to supplies made by non-established businesses to the following:

  • Taxable persons established in Belgium that file periodic VAT returns in Belgium
  • Non-established businesses that are registered for VAT and have appointed a fiscal representative in Belgium

Registration procedures. A foreign EU business without any establishment in Belgium can choose to register directly with the Belgian VAT authorities, i.e., without having to appoint a fiscal representative. In order to do so they must file the following documents:

  • Form 604A, Declaration of Commencement of Activity (in Dutch, Aangifte van aanvang van een werkzaamheid; in French, Declaration de commencement d’activité). This form, which gives more details about the taxable activities that require a Belgian VAT ID number, must be filed within one month after the start of taxable activities in Belgium.
  • Form RBI, Direct VAT registration (in Dutch, Rechtstreeks BTW-identificatie; in French, Identification à la TVA Directe), which requires general information about the foreign EU business.

Late-registration penalties. A penalty ranging from EUR100 to EUR500 is assessed for late VAT registration. If the late registra­tion results in the late payment of VAT, an administrative fine of 15% calculated on the VAT due and late payment interest at a rate of 0.8% per month may be imposed.

These documents must be dated and signed by someone who is entitled to legally bind the EU business, and the originals should be filed either in Dutch, in French or in German. Furthermore, the VAT application file needs to be completed with the follow­ing documents:

  • A copy of the company’s articles of association and any modi­fications (if available)
  • A copy of the registration in the trade register of the company in the Member State of establishment
  • A copy of an order form, contracts (or correspondence) or invoices proving the taxable activities in Belgium and the liabil­ity to register for Belgian VAT purposes

However, a non-EU business liable to register for Belgian VAT purposes, without any establishment in Belgium, is still required to appoint a fiscal representative in Belgium. To do so they must file the following documents:

  • Form 604A, Declaration of Commencement of Activity (in Dutch, Aangifte van aanvang van een werkzaamheid; in French, Declaration de commencement d’activité) which is described above
  • Form 800N, Request for recognition as fiscal representative (in Dutch, Voorstel tot erkenning van een aansprakelijke vertegen­woordiger; in French, Proposition d’agrément d’un représent­ant responsable pour un assujetti non établi en Belgique); form completed by the foreign company to request a Belgian com­pany to act as its fiscal representative toward the Belgian VAT authorities
  • Form AVI, Fiscal representation VAT identification (in Dutch, Aansprakelijke vertegenwoordiging BTW-identificatie; in French, Représentation Fiscal Identification à la TVA), which provides more information about the business and the appoint­ed fiscal representative

These documents must be dated and signed by someone who is entitled to legally bind the non-EU business, and the originals should be filed either in Dutch, in French or in German depending on where the fiscal representative is duly established (Dutch-, French- or German-speaking Community). Furthermore, the VAT application file needs to be completed with the following documents:

  • Form 801, Acceptance of the Belgian VAT representative (in Dutch, Verbintenis van een aansprakelijke vertegenwoordiger van een niet in België gevestigde belastingplichtige; in French, Engagement d’un représentant responsable d’un assujetti non établi en Belgique) in which the fiscal representative agrees to act for the foreign company regarding VAT issues. The form must be completed and signed in the original by a person who is empowered to legally bind the Belgian company.
  • A copy of the company’s articles of association and any modi­fications (if available)
  • A copy of the registration in the trade register of the company in the country of establishment
  • An original certificate issued by the local tax authorities evi­dencing that the company is registered for VAT purposes in the Member State of establishment (certificate cannot be older than one year at the time of filing of the application)
  • A copy of an order form, contracts (or correspondence) or invoices proving the taxable activities in Belgium and the liabil­ity to register for Belgian VAT purposes
  • A bank guarantee in an amount of one-quarter of the (theoreti­cal) VAT due in Belgium, in favor of the Belgian VAT authori­ties, drawn up in duplicate by a Belgian bank or the Belgian branch of a foreign bank. The text of the guarantee must be in accordance with the model agreement as provided by the VAT authorities, and differences in the text of this guarantee are in principle not allowed
  • A “personal guarantee” issued by the fiscal representative.

All documents must be sent to the Central VAT Office for Foreign Taxpayers (in Dutch, Centraal BTW-kantoor voor Buitenlandse Belastingplichtigen; in French, Bureau central de TVA pour Assujettis Etrangers) at the address above.

If a complete file has been submitted and no additional questions are raised, it takes approximately one to four months for a Belgian VAT ID number to be granted to a foreign business.

Digital economy. In case of digital services, telecom services or broadcasting services supplied in a B2B context, the place of supply is the place where the recipient is established. No Belgian VAT should be charged, and reverse charge applies unless sup­plier and customer are established in Belgium.

In case of digital services, telecom services or broadcasting ser­vices supplied in a B2C context, until the end of 2014 only Belgian businesses and foreign businesses that were not estab­lished in the EU were liable to charge Belgian VAT to the recipi­ents that were established in Belgium. As from 2015, Belgian VAT is always due in case of supply to customers established in Belgium, disregarding whether the supplier is established inside or outside the EU. We refer to the section on the Mini One-Stop Shop below for more information.

Mini One-Stop Shop. For digital services, telecom services or broadcasting services supplied in a B2C context, until the end of 2014, only Belgian businesses and foreign businesses that were not established in the EU were liable to charge Belgian VAT to the recipients that are established in Belgium. As from 2015, Belgian VAT is always due, regardless of where the supplier is established.

In order to avoid a VAT registration in each of the Member States where VAT is due, taxable persons can voluntarily opt for a Mini One-Stop Shop (MOSS) VAT registration. Belgian taxable per­sons should apply for a MOSS VAT registration in Belgium. Taxable persons established in other EU Member States should do the same in their own Member State. Taxable persons estab­lished outside the EU with an establishment in the EU should register for MOSS in a Member State where they have an estab­lishment. Taxable persons with no establishment in the EU are free to choose where they apply for a MOSS registration.

A Belgian MOSS VAT registration should be filed electronically (via eservices.minfin.fgov.be). Once registered, taxable persons should submit a MOSS VAT return quarterly in an electronic format, reporting the turnover and the VAT due per Member State. Furthermore, taxable persons applying for MOSS registra­tion should make a single payment including the total amount of the VAT due in the different Member States concerned.

Only digital services, telecom services and broadcasting services in other Member States may be reported in the MOSS return. All other transactions in Belgium should still be reported in the nor­mal VAT return.

Deregistration. When a taxable person stops its economic activi­ties in Belgium and consequently wants to deregister its VAT number, this should be communicated within one month to the VAT authorities by submitting form 604C.

VAT rates

The term “taxable supplies” refers to supplies of goods and ser­vices that are liable to a rate of VAT, including the zero rate.

In Belgium, the following VAT rates apply:

  • Standard rate at 21%
  • Reduced rates at 6% and 12%
  • Zero rate (0%)

The standard rate of VAT applies to all supplies of goods or ser­vices, unless a specific measure provides for a reduced rate, the zero rate or exemption.

Examples of goods and services taxable at 0%

  • Waste products (hard-copy newspapers, metal waste, etc.)

Examples of goods and services taxable at 6%

  • Under certain conditions, goods of basic necessity and social services
  • Books and magazines
  • Certain foodstuffs (milk, fish, meat, fats and oils)
  • Drugs and medicines
  • Water
  • Accommodation
  • Improvements and renovations to buildings older than 10 years (before 1 January 2016, 5 years)
  • Original works of art

Examples of goods and services taxable at 12%

  • Public housing
  • Restaurant services (excluding drinks)

The term “exempt supplies” refers to supplies of goods and ser­vices that are not liable to tax. Exempt supplies do not give rise to a right of input tax deduction (see Section F). Certain supplies are classified as “exempt with credit,” which means that no VAT is chargeable, but the supplier may recover related input tax.

Examples of exempt supplies of goods and services
without right of input VAT deduction

  • Real estate transactions (except “new buildings” and accompa­nying land)
  • Services of doctors and dentists (except for the supply of aes­thetical surgery by doctors)
  • Finance
  • Insurance
  • Human organs

Examples of goods and services exempt with credit

  • Exports of goods outside the EU and related services
  • Intra-Community supplies of goods and intangible services supplied to another taxable person established in the EU, or to any recipient outside the EU (see the chapter on the EU)

Option to tax for exempt supplies. In Belgium, there is an option to tax transactions, including negotiation, concerning deposit and current accounts, payments, transfers, debts, checks and other negotiable instruments. Furthermore, persons other than profes­sional contractors may opt for taxation in case of a transfer of a new building.

Time of supply

The time when VAT becomes due is called the “time of supply” or “tax point.” In Belgium, different time-of-supply rules apply to goods and services.

The time of supply is one of the following:

  • The moment of issuance of the invoice
  • If no invoice is issued, the 15th day of the month following the month of the supply

The time of supply is set at an earlier date if a payment is received before the goods are put at the buyer’s disposal or before the service is completed and the goods/services are clearly described.

Continuous supplies of services. For a continuous supply of ser­vices for which either periodic invoices are issued or periodic payments are made, the time of supply is at the end of each period for which each statement of account or payment relates.

If the recipient is liable to account for the VAT due for a continu­ous supply of services under the business-to-business (B2B) main rule and if no invoices are issued or payments are made, the time of supply is at the end of each year.

Intra-Community supplies and acquisitions of goods. VAT becomes chargeable on the date the invoice is issued if the invoice is issued after the supply or on expiry of the 15th of the month following the month of the supply if no invoice has been issued by that time.

Intra-Community supplies of services. VAT becomes chargeable at the time the services are supplied or at the time each prepayment is made.

Imported goods. The time of the supply for imported goods is either the date of importation or when the goods leave a duty-sus­pension regime. However, the payment of import VAT may be deferred after the receipt of an individual deferment license.

Please note that the payment of import VAT can be deferred to the Belgian VAT return when the importer of record is in posses­sion of an individual deferment license (a so-called E.T. 14.000 license). In order to obtain such a license, the taxable person must file a (specific) application but no longer needs to make an advance payment of 1/24th of the annual import VAT due.

Cash accounting. Belgian VAT law allows suppliers active in B2C transactions to postpone the payment of VAT on supplies of mov­able goods and services to private persons, where no obligation to issue an invoice exists, until and to the extent of receipt of the price.

The cash accounting regime has also been introduced for sup­plies made to public bodies acting as a government (according to article 6 of the Belgian VAT Code).

Reverse-charge services. The time of supply for reverse-charge services is when the invoice is issued. If no invoice is issued, the time of supply is the 15th day of the month following the month of the supply. The time of supply is set at an earlier date if a pay­ment is received before the service is finished.

Prepayments. Regarding local supplies of goods or services, VAT is due on prepayments at the time each payment is made. There is also an obligation to issue an invoice no later than the 15th day of the month following the month of the (pre)payment.

With respect to intra-Community supplies of services, VAT is due on prepayments at the time each payment is made.

No VAT is due on prepayments that relate to intra-Community supplies of goods.

Leased assets. For leased assets the VAT is due on the install­ments at the time the payment is made.

Recovery of VAT by taxable persons

In principle, every VAT-taxable person has the right to deduct the Belgian input VAT incurred. The right to recover input VAT depends mainly on the purpose for which the goods or services are purchased.

The goods or services bought must be used for taxable business purposes. VAT incurred on goods or services bought for private purposes cannot be recovered. In addition, input VAT cannot be recovered on purchases that are used to make exempt supplies (without credit for input tax). Where goods or services are bought for both business and private or exempt purposes, the input VAT can only be recovered to the extent that the goods or services are used for business purposes or taxable activities (calculated on a pro rata basis).

In this respect it is key to hold a valid tax invoice or customs document. Exceptions apply to supplies for which the recipient is liable for the VAT due (reverse charge). Belgian input VAT can only be deducted at the end of the third calendar year following the year in which the VAT became due.

Nondeductible input tax. Input tax may not be recovered on pur­chases of goods and services that are not used for business purposes (for example, goods acquired for private use by an entre­preneur). In addition, input tax may not be recovered for some items of business expenditure.

The following lists provide some examples of items of expendi­ture for which input tax is not deductible and examples of items for which input tax is deductible if the expenditure is related to a taxable business use.

Examples of items for which input tax is nondeductible

  • Purchase, lease, hire, maintenance or fuel for cars (except in certain specific cases, such as car dealers): VAT only deductible on expenses relating to the professional use (business use) of passenger cars with a maximum of 50%; the scope of this limi­tation is broadened to include the purchase or lease of a light truck, including all the costs, provided that there is a mixed use
  • Private expenditure
  • Business gifts (unless valued at less than EUR50, VAT exclud­ed, per unit)
  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco
  • Hotel accommodation, meals and beverages (exceptions may apply)
  • Costs associated with hosting receptions and other entertain­ment costs (except reception costs that have an advertising purpose, which must be proven by way of flyers, advertising leaflets or similar evidence)

Examples of items for which input tax is deductible
(if related to a taxable business use)

  • Attending conferences, seminars and training courses
  • Expenditure for the collective social benefit of employees
  • Business use of home telephone
  • Advertising
  • Transport
  • Books

Partial exemption. Input tax directly related to the making of exempt supplies (without input tax credit) is generally not recov­erable. If a Belgian taxable person makes both exempt and taxable supplies it may not recover input tax in full. This situation is referred to as “partial exemption.”

In Belgium, the amount of input tax that a partially exempt busi­ness may recover may be calculated using either of the following methods:

  • The first method is a general pro rata calculation, based on the percentage of taxable and exempt turnover. The recovery percentage is rounded up to the nearest whole number (for example, a recovery percentage of 77.2% is rounded up to 78%).
  • The second method is direct attribution, which is a two-stage calculation. The first stage identifies the input VAT that may be directly allocated to taxable and to exempt supplies. Input tax directly allocated to taxable supplies is deductible, while input tax directly related to exempt supplies is not deductible. Supplies that are exempt with credit are treated as taxable supplies for these purposes. The next stage identifies the amount of the remaining input tax (for example, input tax on general business overhead) that may be partially allocated to taxable supplies and consequently partially recovered. The calculation may be performed using the general pro rata calculation based on rev­enues (turnover) of supplies made, or it may be a special calcu­lation agreed to with the VAT authorities.

Capital goods. The deduction of VAT paid on the acquisition of investment goods must be limited in the case of private use of those goods. In this respect, Belgium has transposed into Belgian law the amendments made by the Council Directive 2009/162/ EU on 22 December 2009 for all capital goods (movable and immovable).

According to article 45, §1 of the Belgian VAT Code, in the case of an acquisition of a capital good subject to mixed use, the deduction of VAT is disallowed for the part of private use, but there is no requirement to report a deemed supply for this part.

Capital goods are items of capital expenditure that are used in a business over several years. Input tax is deducted in the VAT year in which the goods are acquired. The amount of input tax recov­ered depends on the taxable person’s partial exemption recovery position in the VAT year of acquisition. However, the amount of input tax recovered for capital goods must be adjusted over time if the taxable person’s partial exemption recovery percentage changes during the adjustment period. It must also be adjusted if the use of the capital goods changes.

In Belgium, the capital goods adjustment applies to the following assets for the number of years indicated:

  • Buildings (adjusted for a period of 15 years)
  • Other movable capital assets (adjusted for a period of five years)
  • Effective from 7 January 2007, certain services, such as intel­lectual property rights (including patents, licenses and trade marks or immovable work undertaken by the tenant of a build­ing) considered to be capital goods if amortized for accounting purposes over a period of five years or more

The adjustment is applied each year following the year of acquisi­tion, to a fraction of the total input tax (1/15 for land and buildings and 1/5 for other movable capital assets or qualifying services). The adjustment may result in either an increase or a decrease of deductible input VAT, depending on whether the ratio of taxable supplies made by the business has increased or decreased com­pared with the year in which the capital goods were acquired.

Refunds. If the amount of input tax recoverable in a monthly period exceeds the amount of output tax payable in that period, the taxable person has an input tax credit. A taxable person may request a refund of the credit by marking the relevant box on the VAT return form. A refund may generally be requested only at the end of a quarter. However, a taxable person that meets certain conditions may receive permission to request monthly VAT refunds.

Preregistration costs. There is a tolerance regarding the preregis­tration costs made in the course of VAT registration. If the VAT registration and exploitation of the economic activity follows in an acceptable time period, the deduction will be accepted.

Write-off of bad debts. A taxable person is under certain condi­tions entitled to recover any VAT already paid to the VAT author­ities in respect of bad debts via the VAT return. This adjustment must be supported by sufficient evidence that the customer will never pay the debt, such as the company’s being declared bank­rupt. No official statement from the liquidator is required. If subsequently, (part of) the debt can be recovered, the VAT should be equally repaid to the Belgian VAT authorities.

Noneconomic activities. Noneconomic activities do not create a right to deduct VAT.

Recovery of VAT by non-established businesses

Belgium refunds VAT incurred by businesses that are neither established in Belgium nor required to be registered for VAT there. A non-established business is allowed to claim Belgian VAT to the same extent as a VAT-registered business.

For businesses established in the EU, refund is made under the terms of the EU 8th Directive. For businesses established outside the EU, refund is made under the terms of the EU 13th Directive. Belgium does not exclude any non-EU country from the refund scheme.

VAT refund claims of EU businesses not established in Belgium can be filed through a portal website in the home country of the non-established entity. Original invoices do not need to be sub­mitted with the refund claim.

For the general VAT refund rules applicable to the refund schemes for EU businesses and non-EU businesses, see the chap­ter on the EU.

Refund application. Claims must be filed through a portal website in the home country. In some cases, electronic copies of invoices must be added, depending on the type of cost and the taxable amount of the invoice.

The minimum claim period is three months, while the maximum period is one year. The minimum claim for a period of less than a year is EUR400. For an annual claim, the minimum amount is EUR50.

The statute of limitations for all refund claims is one year, and claims must be submitted before 30 September of the following year.

Repayment interest. If an EU refund is not made within four months, the Belgian VAT authorities pay interest to the claimant at a rate of 0.8% per month. However, interest applies only if the application is filed within six months after the end of the year in which the VAT became due. Interest is not paid to claimants that apply for refunds under the EU 13th Directive scheme.

Invoicing

VAT invoices and credit notes. A Belgian taxable person must generally provide a VAT invoice for all taxable supplies made, including exports and intra-Community supplies. Invoices are not automatically required for retail transactions, unless requested by the customer. Invoices may not be issued for supplies that are exempt from VAT (without input tax credit).

A VAT invoice is necessary to support a claim for input tax deduc­tion or a refund under the EU 2008/9/EU or 13th Directive refund schemes (see the chapter on the EU).

A VAT credit note may be used to reduce the VAT charged and reclaimed on a supply of goods or services. The amount of VAT credited must be separately itemized on the credit note. It must be cross-referenced to the original VAT invoice and contain the same information. The following statement must appear on the credit note: “VAT to be repaid to the Belgian State to the extent that it was initially deducted.”

Electronic invoicing. Effective 1 January 2013, the VAT law has been amended to permit electronic invoicing in line with EU Directive 2010/45/EU.

Proof of exports and intra-Community supplies. Belgian VAT is not chargeable on supplies of exported goods and on intra-Com­munity supplies of goods (see the chapter on the EU). How ever, to qualify as VAT-free, exports and intra-Community supplies must be supported by evidence that the goods have left Belgium. Acceptable proof includes the following documentation:

  • For an export, a copy of the export document, officially vali­dated by Customs, must show the supplier as the exporter of record or should make a reference to the underlying invoice issued by the supplier.
  • For an intra-Community supply, a range of commercial docu­mentation (such as purchase orders, transport documentation, proof of payment and contracts) is required. Each document is permitted as evidence but each document in itself is not suffi­cient. The valid VAT number (issued by another Member State other than Belgium) of the customer should be mentioned on the invoice. In case where the supplier does not have sufficient documents in order to substantiate the intra-Community trans­port of the goods from Belgium to another Member State, the transport could be certified by a “destination document” estab­lished by the supplier or by the purchaser. The use of this sim­plification measure is subject, inter alia, to the following conditions:
    • The “destination document” confirms that the goods are in possession of the purchaser in another Member State than Belgium.
    • The “destination document” can include all the intra-community supplies made in the profit of a client during a period of three consecutive calendar months.
    • The “destination document” includes the following mentions:
      • Name, address and VAT number of the supplier
      • Name, address and VAT number of the purchaser
      • Confirmation that the “destination document” relates to the arrival of intra-Community supply of goods
      • A description of the goods
      • A reference to the related invoice(s)
      • Month(s) and year of the arrival of the goods
      • Place where the goods arrived
      • Price of the supplied goods
    • The “destination document” is signed by the purchaser or by a person who is entitled to sign for the purchaser (by reason of his function). The identity and the function of that person should be confirmed by the purchaser to the supplier by email, letter or other written document.
    • The “signed destination document” can be sent by electronic means (email, etc.). However, the authenticity of the signature is guaranteed.
    • The “signed destination document” is kept by the supplier.

A complete description of that simplification measure can be found in the Decision ET 129.460 dd. 01/07/2016 of the Belgian VAT authorities.

Foreign-currency invoices. Invoices may be issued in any curren­cy, provided that the amount of VAT due is expressed in euros (EUR). If an invoice is issued in foreign currency, the amount of VAT due must be converted to euros using the latest exchange rate published by the European Central Bank or, if the European Central Bank has published no exchange rate, the latest exchange rate published by the National Bank of Belgium. However, a contractual exchange rate may be used instead if the exchange rate used is indicated in the contract and on the invoice and if it is actually used to determine payment between the parties.

There are no requirements with regard to the language of the invoice. However, for inspection purposes, the VAT authorities may ask for a translation if the invoice is issued in a language other than Dutch, French or German (the official languages in Belgium).

B2C invoices. Effective 1 January 2015, new rules apply to the place of supply for supplies of telecommunications, broadcasting and electronic services to non-VAT taxable customers. For fur­ther details of the VAT rules on electronic services in the EU, please refer to the EU chapter.

VAT returns and payment

VAT returns. Belgian VAT returns are usually submitted for monthly periods, and for taxable persons with more than EUR50,000 of intra-Community supplies of goods per quarter, a monthly filing is required.

Taxable persons with a turnover of less than EUR2.5 million may opt to submit returns quarterly (for some supplies of goods, the threshold is EUR250,000). A taxable person who has chosen to file quarterly VAT returns can, during the calendar year, be obliged to start filing monthly VAT returns from the time the threshold of EUR2.5 million of annual turnover or EUR50,000 of intra-Community supplies of goods per quarter has been exceed­ed.

Taxable persons that file quarterly returns must prepay the VAT monthly based on the amount of VAT payable in the previous quarter. Return liabilities must be paid in euros.

Monthly VAT returns and payment are due the 20th day of the month following the return period. However, if that date falls on a Saturday, Sunday or public holiday, the due date will be post­poned to the next working day. The payment of the VAT due needs to be made by the same date.

Quarterly VAT returns must be filed by the 20th day following the relevant calendar quarter. However, if that date falls on a Saturday, Sunday or public holiday, the due date will be post­poned to the next working day. The payment of the VAT due needs to be made by the same date.

Monthly payments for the quarter must be made on the 20th day of the second and third months of the VAT quarter. The amount due is a prepayment that must equal 1/3 of the balance of VAT due for the previous quarter. The balancing payment is due with the VAT return.

Special schemes. A special regime is provided for professional dealers of secondhand cars. In particular, where the professional dealer has purchased secondhand cars on which no VAT was charged, the taxable person can account for VAT on the margin (difference between purchase and sales price) on the sale of the secondhand goods. The same principles apply for a.o. art dealers.

Sale of assets previously used by a company. When the company has deducted the VAT paid on the purchase of the assets, then in principle VAT is due on the price of the goods at the moment the goods are sold. In this respect, please check the exceptions with regard to immovable property.

Electronic filing and archiving. All taxable persons are required to file their Belgian VAT returns electronically instead of in hard-copy format. The Belgian VAT returns should be electronically filed through the internet (via the INTERVAT-application). Only when the taxable person has demonstrated the impossibility of filing the VAT return by electronic means and obtained a written approval from the Belgian VAT authorities may it file the return in hard copy.

Annual returns. Annual VAT returns are not permitted in Belgium. However, every year an annual sales listing (form 725) has to be filed by 31 March of the next year. The annual sales listing is used to record all sales in excess of EUR250 made during the calendar year to customers that are VAT-registered in Belgium.

Penalties

A penalty is assessed for late submission of a VAT return in the amount of EUR100 per month, up to a maximum of EUR1,000.

EU filings

Intrastat. A Belgian taxable person that trades with other EU countries must complete statistical reports, known as Intrastat if the value of either its sales or purchases of goods exceeds certain thresholds. Separate reports are required for intra-Community acquisitions (Intrastat Arrivals) and for intra-Community sup­plies (Intrastat Dispatches).

The threshold for Intrastat Arrivals for the 2016 calendar year is EUR1.5 million.

The threshold for Intrastat Dispatches for the 2016 calendar year is EUR1 million.

Belgian taxable persons must complete Intrastat declarations in euros, rounded up to the nearest whole number.

The Intrastat return period is monthly. The submission deadline is the same as for the VAT return, which is the 20th day of the month following the return period.

A penalty, varying from EUR100 to EUR10,000, can be imposed if a person does not comply with the imposed obligations. No distinction is made according to the nature of the offense (e.g., late submission, missing or inaccurate declarations).

EU Sales Lists. If a Belgian taxable person makes intra-Communi­ty supplies in a return period, it must submit an EU Sales List (ESL) to the Belgian VAT authorities. An ESL is not required for a period in which the taxable person has not made any intra-Com­munity supplies.

Supplies of goods are marked by the letter “L” and supplies of services by the letter “S.” Intra-Community sales performed by party B in simplified triangulation schemes must continue to be marked by the letter “T.”

Effective from 1 January 2010, ESLs are filed monthly by monthly VAT filers and quarterly by quarterly VAT filers.

Penalties may be imposed for late, missing or inaccurate ESLs.