What's new on 1 March?

March heralds a couple of changes: read here about the Car Pass, service vouchers, pensions, and grants for demolishing and rebuilding a house. 

  • You may have heard of the Car Pass, the system designed to counter fraud with second-hand cars, as it prevents mileage clocks being turned back. Legislation went back to 2004 and needed to be updated. Buyers of second-hand cars will now get more information, such as details about the vehicle's emissions and the so-called Euronorm, which determines whether it can still enter a low-emission zone (LEZ) or not. If you enter a LEZ with a car out of date, you can expect a heavy fine. LEZ's are becoming more common, and have been installed in cities like Antwerp and Brussels. Ghent is to follow next year. Fines in Antwerp are around 125 euros; for Brussels this is 350 euros.  If the vehicle is involved in an accident, it needs to pass the technical check again after the reparation; this will also be mentioned on the Car Pass. 
  • The so-called service cheques, vouchers with which you can pay somebody to do household tasks for you, will now be valid for one year instead of 8 months. 
  • The lowest pensions are going up a little bit, at least for those boasting a complete career. Self-employed and employees can look forward to a 0.7 percent increase. This brings the monthly pension to 1,253 euros for single people, and to 1,566 euros for those at the head of a family.
  • There is not a lot of space left in Flanders for new building plots, and those which are left, are very expensive. This is why the government wants to stimulate the renovation of houses, or even the construction of a new home to replace an old one, which can often be more efficient if the building is in a bad state. 13 cities in Flanders (Antwerp, Ghent, Bruges, Ostend, Leuven, Mechelen, Sint-Niklaas, Kortrijk, Roeselare, Aalst, Dendermonde, Genk and Hasselt) are already applying a VAT rate of 6 percent instead of 21 in this case. Those with plans to demolish and rebuild a house outside these cities, can now count on a grant worth 7,500 euros as from now, via the website www.energiesparen.be.

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