On 25 July 2018, a Royal Decree containing the formalities which should be complied with in order to benefit from the extended wage withholding tax exemption for scientific research personnel is finally published. The over the past year frequently discussed Corporate Income Tax Reform extended this wage withholding tax exemption.

Extended to scientific research personnel holding a qualifying bachelor

Prior to 2018 only scientific research personnel holding a certain doctor or master degree qualified for the exemption, but now the exemption also applies to wages paid as of 1 January 2018 to scientific research personnel holding a qualifying bachelor degree as well. The exemption amounts to 40% of the wage withholding tax due as of 1 January 2018 and will increase to 80% as of 1 January 2020.

Overview of qualifying bachelors

The following bachelor degrees qualify for the wage withholding tax exemption:

Academic bachelor degrees (or similar)

  • for the Flemish Community: Sciences, Applied sciences, Applied biological sciences, Medicine, Veterinary medicine, Pharmaceutical sciences, Biomedical sciences, Industrial sciences and technology; nautical sciences, Biotechnology, Architecture, Product development;
  • for the French speaking Community: Sciences, Engineer, Agricultural science and bio-engineer, Medicine, Veterinary medicine, Biomedical and pharmaceutical sciences, Architecture and urbanism, Industrial sciences, Industrial agricultural science.

Professional bachelor degrees (or similar)

  • For the Flemish Community: Biotechnology, Health care; Industrial sciences and technology, Nautical sciences, Commercial sciences and business administration (limited to computer science and innovation);
  • For the French speaking Community: Paramedical, Technology (limited to bio-technology, industrial sciences, technology, nautical sciences, product development and computer sciences).

Exemption limited to 25% (50% for SME’s)

The total amount of the wage withholding tax exemption for scientific personnel holding a qualifying bachelor degree is limited to 25% (50% for SME’s) of the total amount of the exemption for wages paid researchers holding a qualifying doctor or master degree. It follows that the exemption only applies to bachelor degrees when the company also employs scientific personnel holding a doctor or master degree for which the exemption can be applied.

The other exemption conditions (research or development project with a certain goal, the registration with the Federal Public Service Science Policy) remain applicable.