Will you have to fill out your own tax returns next year?

Flemish socialist lawmaker Dirk Van der Maelen has tabled legislation that if approved could mean that up to 60% of the Belgian population will receive a tax letter on which their tax returns are already filled in.

At present the tax service is only able to provide the income details to a quarter of all taxpayers. Mr Van der Maelen is eager to see this share rise and points to the example of foreign countries: "In the Netherlands and the Nordics the number of people who receive a tax letter with the details of their income already filled in is far greater than in Belgium. That's because banks are obliged by law to provide details that are helpful to filling in the form."

Under Mr Van der Maelen's proposal all bodies including banks that currently issue tax certificates will be obliged to send these directly to the tax service. People who so wish will no longer have to fill in their tax returns and will receive a proposal from the tax service setting out how much they will have to pay or the size of their refund.

Taxpayers filling in their tax returns online are already provided with many details, but the socialist lawmaker says that this is not enough: "It's not accessible enough and the barrier is too high for people who lack ICT skills, who are often among the poorest of the population."

The lawmaker stresses that the taxpayer must have the final say on the decision whether he or the tax service fills in the form.

The N-VA's Peter Dedecker has welcomed the proposal on behalf of the opposition Flemish nationalists but warns of the danger of the practice being made mandatory.

"If it's made obligatory, then this is a wealth tax by the back-door. Then the taxman will also know who you are transferring your wealth to."

He puzzlingly adds: "If you back certain funds, you are revealing which religious groups you support and that cannot be the aim of the measure."