The Belgian federal government has announced today a new set of tax measures aiming to balance the federal budget for 2015-2016, including the so-called ‘tax shift’ (shift from taxes on labour to taxes on estate and consumption). Although the drafts of the legal acts implementing these new tax measures are not yet available, the following tax changes are to be expected:
- Increase of the withholding tax on dividends, interests and royalties from 25% to 27%; few exceptions will apply, such as e.g. the interest on regular savings accounts;
- Introduction of a ‘speculation tax’ on capital gains realized on shares in listed companies sold within 6 months from their acquisition. The government specified that the capital losses on such shares will be deductible from the speculation tax base. The tax should apply at the rate of 25%. This speculation tax will co-exist with the previously announced ‘cayman tax’, which targets income from certain legal constructions (e.g. foreign trusts, foundations) in the hands of Belgian individuals;
- Increase of excise duties on tobacco, alcohol and diesel;
- Increase of the VAT on electricity from 6% to 21%;
- Introduction of a ‘health tax’ or 'grease tax’ on certain unhealthy food.
These taxes are to provide the necessary funds to finance the announced decrease of employers' social security contributions from 33% to 25%, and a decrease of the income tax for professionally active individuals.
The government is also considering to modify the existing tax regime of the Sicafi/Vastgoedbevak(real estate investment fund) in order to improve its competitiveness with similar structures abroad.
The specific conditions of application are unclear at this time, and will be the subject of legal acts of which a first draft will be prepared by the Minister of Finance after the summer recess.