Finance Minister puts fiscal amnesty measures on hold

The Federal Finance Minister Johan Van Overtveldt (Flemish nationalist) has announced that the existing fiscal amnesty measures will be put “on hold”. News that the measures are to be suspended appears in Friday’s edition of the daily ‘De Standaard’. The decision has come about after a ruling by the Council of State. The fiscal amnesty measures that have been put on hold should not be confused with the permanent system that Mr Van Overtveldt is currently working on.

After the last temporary fiscal amnesty came to an end in 2013, the Belgian Inland Revenue started working on a new system for repentant tax evaders.

The new system would mean that tax evaders that had decided to come clean would be treated in the same way no matter where they were in the country. However, the Flemish socialists found the measures too soft and took their concerns to the Council of State.

The Auditor has ruled that the Inland Revenue acted outside its powers by drafting a new system for fiscal amnesty itself. The Council of State almost always follows the Auditor’s advice. Mr Van Overtveldt has decided to act proactively

"I have told the Special Taxation Inspectorate (BBI), as a precautionary measure, not to use the principles contained in the Inland Revenue’s instructions as a basis for dealing with any new cases”.

The “instructions” should not be confused with the new fiscal amnesty rules that Mr Van Overtveldt is working on. The new rules have been delayed as a result of concerned expressed by the Council of State about the plans.

It can’t be ruled out that black money, the origins of which aren’t clear, will, at least in part, be subject to regional taxation. The Walloon and Brussels regional government are planning not to give Mr Van Overtveldt an easy ride.

The Auditor’s advice is the second setback in a week for Mr Van Overtveldt. On Monday the European Commission said that the so-called “tax rulings” the Belgian Exchequer had granted to 35 multi-nationals were against EU competition rules.

The European Commission ordered the Belgian Exchequer to demand 700 million euro in back tax from the companies. Mr Van Overtveldt says that he may appeal against the European Commission’s ruling.