On 28 February 2019, after several postponements, the Belgian parliament approved the bill on the 'mobility budget', which will enter into force as of 1 March 2019. This budget gives employees opportunities to divide an amount of money onto different transportation methods, to get to work more efficiently and more environmentally friendly. With this measure, the government hopes to put an end to the traffic jam and to unravel the tangle of mobility. It can be wise for an employer to introduce this new budget to provide his employees a better work-life-balance.

For whom?

The mobility budget contains a dual freedom of choice: you can choose as an employer whether or not you offer the mobility budget in your company and which conditions may apply if you do so. To implement the mobility budget certain conditions and anti-abuse measures for both the employer and the employee need to be followed:

  • Employer:

The employer should have been offering one or more company cars to one or more employee(s) for at least 3 years. An exception has been made for new companies.

  • Employee:

The employee must have had a company car OR be entitled to have one for

  1. at least 12 months in the last 3 years; and
  2. an uninterrupted period of 3 months prior to the application.

These conditions do not apply for new hires. The right to have a company car must be linked to the function of the employee. Employees who obtained a company car by 'salary sacrifice' are excluded from the right to apply the mobility budget.

If an employee has more than one company car, only one car can be handed in for a mobility alternative. A cash for car allowance cannot be combined with the mobility budget.

How is it calculated?

The budget is equal to the annual gross cost of ownership of the replaced company car, including:

  • Finance cost (lease or depreciation when owned by the employer);
  • Maintenance costs;
  • Solidarity contribution;
  • Taxes born by the employer;
  • Fuel costs; and
  • all ‘costs within the framework of the company car policy’.

Resulting in a budget neutral transaction for the employer.

How to spend your budget ?

The mobility budget allows employees to choose from the following possibilities:

  • Pillar 1: Exchange of the company car

The employee still has the choice for a company car, under the condition that it is a more eco-friendly car. This eco-friendly car will be subject to the regular social and tax regime of a company car.

  • Pillar 2: Sustainable alternatives for mobility

The amount of the budget that is not used in pillar 1 (after deduction of the cost of the eco-friendly car) can be used for alternative mobility measures, such as public transport, soft mobility (e.g. bicycles), organized joint transport, sharing solutions, housing expenses, etc. Alternatives of pillar 2 are not subject to taxes and social security contributions and are 100 % tax deductible for the company without any additional conditions (e.g. a disposition of an electric bike outside the mobility budget will only be exempted, if it is actually used for work-office commuting).

  • Pillar 3: Cash

The amount that remains after expenditure in pillar 1 and 2 will be paid out in cash to the employee once a year. The employee is subject to a (special) social security contribution of 38,07%. Pillar 3 is exempted from taxes for the employee and is 100 % tax deductible for the employer.

Examples

In the following examples the old company car (a BMW 318 d with a fuel card catalogue value of 30.600 EUR VATi) is being traded. The total cost of ownership is approximately 10.000,00 EUR. The maximum taxes to be paid for this benefit in kind would be 922,83 EUR for income year 2019.

Example 1

Michelle lives in Hamme, but her workplace is in the city center of Brussels. Before the mobility budget, Michelle had a large company car, with which she was stuck in traffic every day for 2 hours on her way to work. After the introduction of the mobility budget, Michelle rides her new, smaller but more eco-friendly, company car (pillar 1) to the park and ride-spot outside Brussels and travels the last kilometers by folded bicycle (pillar 2). Not only is her travel time now been reduced by half, her physical condition has also improved significantly.

Mobility budget of 10.000 EUR Budget (in EUR) (Para)fiscal cost (in EUR) Net cash amount (in EUR)
Taxable benefit in kind (tax) + estimated taxes @ 50% 5.500,00 (total cost) -465,00 (1) /

Pillar 2: Sustainable transport

Folded bicycle
230,00 / /

Pillar 3: Cash amount after pillar 1 and 2

(Minus) special social contributions @ 38,07%

4.270,00 -1.625,59 (2) 2.644,41 (3)
TOTAL 10.000,00 2.090,59 (sum of (1) and (2)) 2.179,41 ((3) after taxes for company car (1))

Example 2

George first had a company car with which he travelled every day between his home in Ghent and his work place in Antwerp. After the introduction of the mobility budget, he traded his company car for an apartment close to his work place in Antwerp (pillar 2). He now uses a city bike (pillar 2) every day to ride the few kilometers between his apartment and the company he works for. When he has to travel a longer distance he uses a Cambio car (pillar 2) of which the parking spot is just one block away from his apartment. The remaining budget of his former company car is paid out to George with an annual extra cash payment.

Mobility budget of 10.000 EUR Budget (in EUR) (Para-)fiscal cost (in EUR) Net cash amount (in EUR)
Taxable benefit in kind (tax) + estimated taxes @ 50% / / /

Pillar 2: Sustainable transport

160,00 / /

Car sharing

1.000,00 / /

Rent apartment near work

6.600,00 / /

Pillar 3: Cash amount after pillar 1 and 2

(Minus) special social contributions @ 38,07%

1.740,00 -662,42 (1) 1.077,58 (2)
TOTAL 10.000,00 662,42 (1) 1.077,58 (2)

Our observations

The mobility budget legislation provides a broader range on alternatives for the company car than the ‘cash for car system’. Both systems are similar, but in the mobility budget, the car is not excluded and a lot more options are provided. The government also announced that a Royal Decree will follow with more details on how to manage the mobility budget. Another alternative can be to opt for a broader flexible reward plan, in which you can combine as much as you want and include every employee.