Companies that have to stop all or part of their activities due to the corona crisis, or that are part of a cascade of problems with their partners, and as a result see their turnover, orders and customer base decrease significantly, can call on a number of support measures from the authorities to cope with this corona crisis.

1. Temporary unemployment due to force majeure

"I am not able to employ the staff anymore. What now? I'm a quarantined employee. What now? I'm detained abroad in quarantine, what now? Do I have to continue paying the labour costs?"

Temporary unemployment due to force majeure following the coronavirus is a measure that ensures that the interruption of the activity of the employer does not imply the termination of employment contracts. The labour costs do not have to be borne by the employer.

The unemployment office RVA/ONEM pays an allowance of 70% of a the average salary, but capped at € 2,754.76, to the employees who can no longer be employed. The government has decided to increase the amount of the allowance by EUR 150 per month (EUR 5.63/day). This measure is valid until 30 June 2020.

During the coronavirus period, no distinction is made between temporary unemployment due to force majeure and unemployment for economic reasons nor between blue-collar or white-collar workers.

Only one procedure for both blue-collar and white-collar workers should be followed to apply for temporary unemployment due the corona crisis. A special application form is made available by the RVA/ONEM.

You can find more information about this by clicking here.

2. The bridging right for the self-employed

"I am the manager of a company whose activities have been stopped. I am self-employed and my activity has been interrupted, what now?"

The government has decided to accommodate these self-employed persons and to provide a replacement income by easing the access to the so-called bridging right.

Self-employed persons who, due to quarantine, a ban on returning to Belgium or indirectly due to the coronavirus, have to interrupt or stop their activities, can benefit from a financial advantage as from the 7th day.

Which self-employed persons?

Only those self-employed whose main profession is to be self-employed, the starting self-employed, the assistants and the assisting spouses. The self-employed whose self-employment is their secondary profession, and the student-self-employed persons are excluded from this rule.

How much is the allowance? The allowances are composed as follows:

3. Postponement and exemption of advances on social security contributions

"Due to the corona crisis, I am not or no longer able to pay my advances for the time being. What to do now?"3. Postponement and exemption of advances on social security contributions

The government provides for the possibility to request postponement or exemption of social security advances.

3.1 Postponement of payment of social security contributions

All self-employed persons can request a postponement of the payment of the advances on the social security contributions for a period of one year without any increase being charged and without impact on their rights.

This means that the contributions of the first quarter have to be paid before 31 March 2021 and the contributions of the second quarter before 30 June 2021.

This measure only relates to provisional contributions for the first and second quarter of 2020.

The application must be made in writing through the social insurance fund before 15 June 2020.

3.2 Exemption from social security contributions

Self-employed persons who cannot pay the advances at all can apply to be exempted from the payment of these social security contributions.

The exemption from social security contributions can be granted in whole or in part.

This exemption can be requested for the provisional contributions or for the contribution supplement after regularisation of the professional income.

Which self-employed persons?

The self-employed person who is self-employed as his main profession and his assisting spouse. This means that the measure does not apply to self-employed persons whose self-employment is a secondary profession, student self-employed persons with reduced contributions, and self-employed persons with a similar secondary profession.

Which option exists for all self-employed persons?

A reduction of the social security contributions for 2020 can be granted to all self-employed persons regardless of whether they are in a main occupation or a secondary occupation if their professional income is below one of the legal thresholds.

When your payment of provisional social security contributions or regularisation contributions is too late?

You will automatically receive a waiver of increases without any request.

4. Payment plan for employer contributions

"My company is experiencing financial difficulties due to the corona crisis which makes the payment of employer contributions difficult or currently impossible."

The corona crisis is accepted as a reason that makes it possible to apply for amicable payment schedules of employers' social security contributions.

Employers will be able to pay their social security contributions for the first and second quarter of 2020 via a monthly repayment plan.

The application must be submitted to the NSSO.

5. Deferral of payment of taxes

The government grants an automatic deferral for the payment of taxes of two months for personal income tax, withholding tax, VAT and corporate income tax.

In this way, the government wants to give more oxygen to businesses, SMEs and the self-employed persons, given the circumstances, and to maintain the employment rate.

6. Payment in installments

Businesses (individuals and legal entities with an enterprise number) that are affected by the coronavirus crisis and have payment difficulties can apply for financial support with the tax authorities FOD/SPF Finances in the form of a plan to pay taxes in installments.

This installment plan relates to VAT, withholding tax on professional income, personal income tax, tax on legal entities and corporate income tax.

The eligible businesses can request ease of payment of VAT, withholding tax on professional income, personal income tax, corporation tax and legal entity tax without being exposed to any fines or interest on late payment.

The eligible business must demonstrate that it is experiencing financial difficulties as a result of the coronavirus, e.g. as a result of a drop in turnover, customers, orders or as a result of being part in a cascade of problems with their partners.

The application must be submitted separately for each debt before 30 June 2020 (i.e. not for each measure) to the regional tax recovery centre of the municipality where the business is located.

7. Exemption from tax on regional aid

At the press conference on 20 March 2020, the government indicated that the aid measures (premiums, etc.) would not be taxed at federal level.