The Belgium Stock Exchange Tax was expanded effective January 1, 2017. Under the expanded regime, the tax also applies to share disposals and purchases for consideration carried out by intermediaries located outside of Belgium where the order for the transaction is given, directly or indirectly, by a Belgian resident individual or entity to a foreign intermediary. The tax previously applied only if the transaction was carried out by an intermediary located in Belgium.
Although there is no direct guidance from the Belgian authorities on how the changes affect employee stock plans, some of the transactions made pursuant to such plans may now be considered subject to the tax. In particular, the sale of shares acquired under a stock plan will be subject to the tax if it is executed by a non-Belgian broker. By contrast, the issuance of shares at vesting of RSUs is not subject to the tax as employees do not pay any consideration to acquire the shares. Similarly, if option exercises and ESPP purchases are satisfied by transferring newly issued shares to the employees, the tax should not apply.
At the sale of shares, the tax is levied on the total sale proceeds (not only the gain). The current rate is 0.27%, but the tax is capped at €1,600 of taxes due per transaction.
Non-Belgian brokers or intermediaries can appoint a fiscal representative in Belgium to report the transaction, withhold the tax and remit it to the Belgian tax authorities. Absent this appointment, the individual taxpayer is responsible for reporting and paying the tax due directly to the Belgian tax authorities.
Under transitional rules (i) transactions taking place from January through March where no Belgian withholding representative is appointed and (ii) transactions taking place in January through April where a Belgian withholding representative is appointed must be reported and the applicable tax paid by June 30, 2017. After the transition period, transactions where no Belgian withholding representative is appointed must be reported and the applicable tax paid by the end of the second month following the month in which the transaction takes place.