The announced set of tax measures aimed at balancing the federal budget for 2015/16, including the so-called ‘tax shift’ (a shift from taxes on labour to taxes on estate and consumption), has been voted into law. As expected, the following key tax measures have been included in the Act of 10 August 2015:

  • Increase in the withholding tax on dividends, interests and royalties from 25% to 27%; few exceptions will apply, such as interest on regular savings accounts;
  • Introduction of a ‘speculation tax’ on capital gains realized on shares in listed companies sold within six months of their acquisition. Capital losses on such shares will be deductible from the speculation tax base, and excess capital losses can be carried forward to the following three tax years. The tax will apply as of 1 January 2016 at the rate of 27%. This speculation tax will exist alongside the previously announced ‘Cayman Tax’ (or ‘look-through tax’), which targets income from certain legal constructions (e.g. foreign trusts, foundations) in the hands of Belgian individuals;
  • Increase in VAT on electricity from 6% to 21% as of 1 September 2015.

The increased taxes are to provide the necessary funds to finance the announced gradual decrease in employers' social security contributions from 33% to 25%, a decrease in income tax for professionally active individuals, an increase in certain pension incomes, the introduction of an investment deduction in certain high-tech sectors and SME-specific measures to support start-ups.