As a founding OECD member, Belgium has supported the BEPS project though it did not adopt the recommendations early on. In part this was because Belgium already has some measures in place, such as anti-abuse rules, which are supposed to safeguard the tax base against aggressive tax planning.
Some observers were expecting Belgium to drag its heels on the EU's Anti-Tax Avoidance Directive (ATAD). Yet the Belgian government committed itself to the ATAD in July 2016 and has set about putting its measures into domestic law.
Likewise, Belgium signed up to the multilateral instrument (MLI) in June 2017. Despite having reservations about certain articles, the Belgian government submitted a list of 98 treaties it would like to designate as covered tax agreements (CTAs). These treaties are up for amendment via the mechanisms of the MLI.
"I think our government has taken the position to be a good student and follow the guidance of the OECD," said Koen Morbée, a partner at Tiberghien. "Not only have we submitted to the OECD, we have submitted to the EU Commission's decisions on tax avoidance."
Another factor was that the centre-right Michel government wants to avoid the kind of uncertainty which might deter foreign investment. This is why the Belgian government has gone on to pursue corporate tax cuts, while it implements some of the BEPS recommendations. But the prospects of corporate tax reform are looking more uncertain.
"We are still expecting the corporate tax reform that was announced this year but I am not sure this will happen this year," said Jean-Michel Degée, a partner at Liedekerke. "The purpose was probably to have a big corporate tax reform, to reduce the corporate tax rate from 34% to 25% or less if possible."
"It's also the case that, as the 2019 election approaches, the government may not want to implement a major tax reform. It could be diluted or dropped altogether," said Degée. "We will probably have something more limited for small and medium-sized companies."
At the same time, the Belgian government has introduced a law requiring companies to report income from lower-tax jurisdictions. This applies to income over €100,000 ($118,000). A 'tax haven', in this instance, is any jurisdiction blacklisted by the OECD or any tax regime outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) with a corporate rate below 10%.
One of the most important developments in recent years has been the so-called 'Cayman tax', also known as the CFC rule, which applies to income from certain legal constructions founded by Belgian individuals and companies. This includes foreign entities, foundations and trusts. The tax does not apply if the beneficiaries can demonstrate that the income is already taxed at the minimum of 15%.
Although the Belgian authorities wanted to avoid uncertainty for business, the LuxLeaks and Panama Papers scandals provoked public outrage. So the government launched its transparency initiatives in response to the furore, but the Belgian authorities are still looking to strike a balance between being pro-business and falling in line with international standards.
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Loyens & Loeff is an independent full service law firm, specialised in integrated legal and tax advice. We have a 100-year track record of international (corporate) tax planning with more than 350 top tax specialists, international tax lawyers and 550 corporate/regulatory lawyers working from our offices in all major financial centres.
We understand that multinational businesses and cross border investors are increasingly faced with a multitude of international developments that impact their decision making, raising questions about how to structure future projects and transactions. In these complex, constantly evolving situations, we offer pragmatic advice and tailor-made solutions.
Our Tax practice covers all areas of tax law and is integrated with our other practices such as Corporate/M&A, Real Estate, Investment Management/Funds, Private Equity, Banking & Finance, Capital Markets, Private Clients, Employment, Commercial Litigation and Energy.
Areas of tax include tax optimisation, tax compliance, transfer pricing, tax assurance, estate planning, employment tax, European tax, accounting standards and financial reporting, financing and venture capital, holding structures, international and national tax planning, corporate restructuring, rulings, tax litigation, VAT, customs and excess, and international trade.
Tiberghien Lawyers | Avocats | Advocaten CVBA
Tour & Taxis, Avenue du Port | Havenlaan 86C Box 419
Key Contact :
Phone: +32 2 773 40 00
Main areas of focus:
Corporate Tax, Mergers & Acquisitions, Transfer Pricing, International Tax & Permanent Establishments, Indirect Tax, Customs, Private Clients, Global Mobility, Tax Controversy, Tax Technology
|Corporate Income Tax||33.99%||A|
|Capital Gains Tax||0%||0.412%||25.75%||33.99|
|Net Operating Losses (years)|
|Royalties from, for example, patents, know-how||0%||15%||27%|
|Branch Remittance Tax||0%|
A Surcharge of 3% on income tax makes effective corporate tax rate 33.99%.
Withholding tax note: Standard rate of 27%, however several exemptions and reductions exist.
Source: AB Taxand, Taxand Belgium
Founding partners Geert De Neef and Willy Platteeuw oversee tax services at AB Taxand Belgium. De Neef founded the firm with Platteeuw in 2005. The two of them work within a large team of tax professionals, including eight partners. The firm is increasingly focused on M&A restructuring, real estate finance schemes and transactions in general.
A new addition to the firm is tax adviser Griet Van Gucht. Taxand has offices in Antwerp and Brussels, where the tax practice advises clients from a variety of sectors, such as banking and finance. The team provides an especially strong service in real estate, corporate and international tax, as well as M&A, estate planning and indirect tax.
Partner Patrick Smet is the head of the tax group at Allen & Overy. He specialises in M&A, financial tax, incentives, dispute resolution and tax risk management. The team consisting of one partner and one counsel, along with four other professionals, continues to expand. Vénétia Fallon joined in 2016. The team brings together tax expertise with accounting, company and civil law.
Allen & Overy provides support in a variety of areas, such as transactions, litigation, tax investigations and VAT. Litigation and investigations have become a major part of the firm's focus given the intensified tax scrutiny in recent years. The team's full service offering includes tax advice to national and multinational corporations, financial institutions and public bodies.
Alain Huyghe leads the tax team at Baker McKenzie. The main focus of the Belgian tax practice is advising domestic and multinational companies on tax planning, M&A, transfer pricing, private equity, corporate finance, fund structuring and incentives. This service line includes tax litigation.
The tax team consists of three partners and six other fee earners. Another distinguished partner at the firm is Géry Bombeke, who heads the transfer pricing unit. Recent additions to the practice include Julie Permeke, Olivier Van Baele and Elisabeth Kovacz.
Baker McKenzie offers clients integrated tax and legal service in areas such as cross-border transactions. Economic analysis plays a key role in the firm's tax and transfer pricing services. The Belgian firm is a member of Baker McKenzie's international network, which includes around 800 tax professionals across more than 40 countries.
With offices across the country, Baker Tilly Belgium offers a range of specialist services in such areas as corporate finance, consultancy, investment projects, real estate and R&D ventures. One of the firm's key tax partners is Marc de Munter, who has impressive expertise in property tax and international tax law. He also handles cross-border projects, financing structures, corporate reorganisations, succession planning and incentive schemes.
As part of Baker Tilly International, the Belgian firm benefits from collaborative efforts with more than 126 firms active in 147 countries. Baker Tilly serves clients in Belgium and abroad, particularly multinationals, family-owned businesses, and small and medium-sized enterprises.
Clifford Chance offers clients a wide scope of tax services, such as corporate tax, transfer pricing, restructuring and VAT. An important partner at the firm is Alexandre Ooms, who has been with Clifford Chance for more than 12 years. Ooms has extensive knowledge of the real estate sector, especially on the tax implications of M&A deals and fund restructuring. The key practice areas of the tax team include banking and finance, funds, capital markets, structured debt, joint ventures, real estate and M&A.
Managing partner Tom Declercq oversees tax and legal services at Deloitte Belgium. He has more than 20 years of experience in domestic and international tax law, particularly with regard to social security planning. The team consists of 37 partners and 441 tax professionals.
Deloitte Belgium prides itself on its multidisciplinary approach with capabilities in auditing, tax, consultancy and finance. The practice works across all areas of tax, such as corporate and commercial law, M&A, banking and private equity, intellectual property (IP), fraud and white collar crime. Key practice areas include financial services and telecommunications.
As part of the Deloitte 2020 strategy, Deloitte Belgium is committed to technical solutions. For instance, the SMART tool offer clients an automated means of processing indirect tax matters. Other tools include the Value Chain Analysis Tool (VCAT), the Tax Risk Cube (TRC) and the TP Digital DoX. These software solutions are a key part of Deloitte's range of services.
Dumon, Sablon & Vanheeswijck is an independent law firm offering cost-effective and practical services in such areas as tax, business and estate law. The firm's service range includes corporate restructuring, international tax law, tax disputes, VAT, customs and other indirect taxes. This specialist practice consists of 20 lawyers.
It was founded 30 years ago by Johan Dumon, Stefan Sablon and Luc Vanheeswijck, who have expertise in such areas as income tax, estate planning, corporate reorganisations and criminal tax law. As part of the team's focus on criminal tax law, the practice handles cases on tax fraud and money laundering. The tax practice mainly serves Belgian companies and international businesses.
Managing partner Patrick Hofströssler oversees the tax practice at Eubelius. Hofströssler has been at the firm since 2000 and is the president of the management committee. The team has impressive expertise in all areas of Belgian and European business law, which complements the firm's tax service line.
Another distinguished partner is Claes Wouter, who advises large to medium-sized companies on such issues as transactions, withholding tax and dispute resolution. The tax group is particularly strong in M&A, real estate and financial transactions, family-owned business, employment benefits, R&D and IP rights.
Managing partners Herwig Joosten and Steven Claes oversee EY's tax group. Joosten specialises in transfer pricing and international tax. He has been a managing partner for more than 15 years. The practice offers advisory services in all areas of tax, including corporate tax, transactions and indirect tax. The international accounting firm has around 350 professionals and works as part of the EY network, alongside member firms in 140 countries.
The Belgian tax team at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer offers the full range of tax services, such as tax planning, transfer pricing, litigation and transactions. A key partner at the firm is Axel Haelterman, who has impressive expertise in corporate, financial and international tax matters. He works in tandem with associates Laurent Voisot and Olivia Herbert. The team's remit covers M&A deals, capital markets, private equity, financial instruments, banking and structured finance. The firm serves clients from a wide range of industries, such as finance, real estate, leisure, consumer goods and retail.
Howard Liebman is the head of the tax practice at Jones Day. He specialises in international tax and corporate structuring, and coordinates both the corporate and tax sides of M&A, transactions, joint ventures and restructuring. Liebman is also president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Belgium.
Another prominent team member is counsel Werner Heyvaert, who specialises in transactions, and has more than 20 years of experience in tax law. The tax practice offers a comprehensive scope of advice to domestic and international companies. The team has a long-term focus on EU tax law and the firm prides itself on its pan-European approach. The clientele includes multinational corporations, banks, investment funds and other financial institutions.
Senior partner Koen Maerevoet and René Philips head the tax and legal team at KPMG. Philips has more than 30 years of experience advising in corporate and international tax matters. Maerevoet has in-depth knowledge of various areas, such as financial services, real estate and infrastructure.
As one of the biggest tax departments in the country, the team offers the full range of tax services and invests in tax technology to find innovative solutions for clients. Another distinguished partner at KPMG is Dirk Van Stappen, who heads transfer pricing operations. He specialises in international tax, such as double taxation procedures, transfer pricing and planning.
Danny Stas leads the tax department at Laga. The tax practice consists of 17 partners and more than 100 other professionals. The full service offering ranges from corporate tax, criminal tax and controversy to VAT, customs and other indirect taxes. Key practice areas include banking and finance, commercial and corporate M&A deals, software and IP rights.
Another distinguished partner is Luc De Broe, who heads the litigation team within the tax department. The growing team provides practical solutions for a diverse client base, such as multinational companies, medium to large businesses, financial institutions and public bodies. These solutions include deal restructuring and reorganisation.
Jean-Michel Degée is the head of the tax group at Liedekerke. The practice is noted for its considerable experience in tax litigation before the authorities, whether it be the Belgian Constitutional Court or the Court of Justice of the European Union. The tax group provides the full range of services, from real estate and transactions to transfer pricing and audits.
Liedekerke has one of the biggest tax departments in Belgium. The firm's team of dedicated professionals include Daniel Garabedian and Simone Nudelholc, offering clients tailor-made solutions to tax problems. Garabedian is one of just 20 lawyers admitted to the bar of the Belgian Court of Cassation. Nudelholc specialises in estate planning from both a civil and a tax law perspective.
In the past year, Liedekerke's tax team served as counsel for SABMiller in the takeover by AB InBev, which involved cross-border transactions between the US, the UK, Belgium and South Africa. The merger was valued at more than $100 billion.
Managing partner Henk Vanhulle leads the tax practice at Linklaters in Belgium. He specialises in corporate tax, especially international tax planning, corporate finance, M&A and capital markets. Vanhulle has a wealth of knowledge in areas such as cross-border restructuring, setting up private equity funds and joint ventures.
Another distinguished partner is Nicolas Lippens, who has a deep understanding of European tax law. The tax team offers clients innovative advice in corporate tax, transfer pricing and litigation, among many other areas. The Belgian practice is a part of an international network of more than 120 tax specialists.
Partner Marc Dhaene is the head of tax at Loyens & Loeff. The tax group comprises eight partners and 20 other professionals, offering the full range of services including corporate tax, cross-border reorganisations, international tax, compliance, litigation, restructuring and audit support.
The firm's distinguished partners include Christian Chéruy, Thierry Charon, Natalie Reypens and Xavier Clarebout, who are regarded as leading experts in tax and transfer pricing. The team brings together an array of expertise in such areas as European tax law, investment, estate planning, venture capital and accounting law. The firm offers clients a multidisciplinary approach.
As well as having one of the largest tax practices in Belgium, Loyens & Loeff has well-established offices in the Netherlands and Luxembourg, and is also expanding its presence in Switzerland. The client base encompasses high-net-worth individuals, family-owned businesses, start-ups, financial institutions and multinational companies.
With 35 years of experience, Astrid Pieron is the head of the tax practice at Mayer Brown in Brussels. She practiced law at Deloitte and Arthur Andersen before joining the firm in 2007. As part of her tax role, Pieron is also the head of Mayer Brown's European transfer pricing centre. The tax practice consists of four professionals, including two partners, and is part of an international network with more than 120 professionals worldwide.
Mayer Brown offers a wide range of advice on transactions, optimisation of M&A, structuring of investment funds and assistance on private equity. The service range includes cross-border tax matters. The firm engages with the OECD and EU on tax policy development with its practitioners taking part in working groups.
The service range at NautaDutilh covers all areas of tax law, such as tax planning, structuring, transactions and litigation. This remit extends to VAT, customs and excise. The tax practice often advises and assists multinational companies with international tax planning. The tax team takes an interdisciplinary approach through cooperation with other branches of NautaDutilh.
A key partner at the firm is Kurt Demeyere, who specialises in tax issues with regards to Russia. Demeyere is the vice president of the Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce for Russia and Belarus. His expertise covers accounting, corporate and financial matters, such as tax incentives.
As chairman of PwC Belgium, Axel Smits heads the tax practice. He has more than 25 years of experience advising national and multinational companies on a broad palette of tax issues. Smits specialises in substance-based planning, IP rights and transactions.
The tax team assists clients in developing substance-based strategies to align the reality of doing business with the demands of the authorities. The accounting firm has a strong tax practice that covers international and corporate tax services, as well as compliance and accounting, dispute resolution, cus
Partner Wim Panis is the head of tax at Stibbe. The tax practice offers the full scope of services in domestic and international tax matters, with particular strengths in M&A transactions, financial services, IP rights, financing and transfer pricing.
Panis specialises in corporate tax, litigation, VAT and other indirect taxes. He has expertise in real estate, private equity, energy, utilities and software. Panis works closely with counsel Thierry Denayer and partner Xaver Gillot. Denayer focuses on cross-border and corporate restructuring, financial products, investments and securitisation. Whereas, Gillot specialises in transfer pricing and the tax aspects of IP rights and R&D projects.
Stibbe's specialists are well-equipped for resolving disputes and negotiating tax rulings with the Belgian authorities. Key practice areas include telecommunications, media and technology, EU and competition tax law.
The Belgian tax practice at Tiberghien consists of 11 partners and 68 other professionals, offering clients the full suite of tax advice. This includes corporate tax, inheritance tax, VAT, as well as disputes and negotiations with the Belgian tax authorities. New recruits to the tax team include partner Bruno Cardoen and counsel Larissa De Wulf.
A key partner at the firm is Koen Morbée, who specialises in business tax, finance and real estate transactions. Morbée has engaged in international tax affairs for major Belgian companies and multinationals. His expertise covers European tax law and international restructuring.
Tiberghien has entered into a partnership with Tivalor and Dutch firm Atlas Tax Lawyers to combine their respective transfer pricing capabilities. The end result was the Benelux TP practice T/A Economics, headed by Andy Neuteleers and Frank Schwarte.
|Tier 1- Belgium|
|Loyens & Loeff|
|Tier 2- Belgium|
|Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer|
|Tier 3- Belgium|
|AB Taxand Belgium|
|Allen & Overy|
|Tier 4- Belgium|
|Baker Tilly Belgium|
|Dumon, Sablon & Vanheeswijck|