A ‘speculation tax’ of 33 per cent is introduced on capital gains realised by Belgian resident and non-resident individuals within six months from the date of acquisition of listed shares held other than for professional purposes.
This tax applies to the disposal (including short sales) of listed shares, profit certificates, warrants, call and put options and other derivatives over listed shares.
Capital gains realised on titles held in undertakings for collective investments in transferable securities (UCITS) and in Belgian regulated real estate companies are not subject to this capital gains tax. Also, capital gains realised on listed shares, options or warrants acquired under regulated stock option plans or granted by an employer and that may have been taxed as professional income fall outside the scope of the speculation tax. This is also the case for capital gains that are realised beyond the shareholder’s control, ie at the occasion of so-called ‘mandatory corporations’ (eg squeeze-outs, mergers, splits or spin-offs).
The method applicable to compute the six-month holding period is the ‘last in first out’ (LIFO) method, the computation being made on a share per share basis with the same ISIN code.
The taxable basis is equal to the difference between (i) the price received reduced by the tax on stock exchange transactions (if any) and (ii) the price paid for the acquisition increased by the tax on stock exchange transactions (if any). Capital losses are in principle not deductible. The only situation where capital losses are taken into account is where there is a realisation – in a single transaction – of a number of listed shares or other qualifying instruments with the same ISIN number but acquired via successive acquisitions (at different acquisition prices). In this case, the capital gains realised on a certain number of the shares or other qualifying instruments will be set off by the capital losses relating to other shares or qualifying instruments realised in the same transaction and only the net amount (which cannot be less than zero) will be taxable.
The speculation tax takes the form of a withholding tax levied at source by the intervening intermediary located in Belgium that fully discharges a resident or non-resident individual from its liability for the speculation tax. In case the withholding tax of 33 per cent is not applied, the capital gain needs to be reported in the personal income tax return and is subject to personal income tax at a specific rate of 33 per cent, not increased by local surcharges.
The speculation tax enters into effect for capital gains realised on listed shares or other qualifying instruments acquired as of 1 January 2016.