Couldn't we all do with some help at home? Hiring someone in the black is tempting, it's also very risky. First of all, you cannot employ someone without a visa and a work permit. Secondly, you must take out insurance to cover household staff, or an injured helper could sue you. And most importantly, you have to pay social security and withhold tax. It is not only the helper who is taking risks. (More …)
In 1993 Belgium introduced a general anti avoidance rule in the Income Tax Code, in the Inheritance Tax Code and in the Registration Tax Code. While the Government is asking the Parliament to introduce a similar rule in the VAT code, the Supreme Court on 4 November overturned a decision of the Liège Court of Appeal which appears to leave little future for the anti avoidance rule. Read the article here.
For most of us, end of spring is tax return season. The brown envelopes drop in the letterboxes during the spring and they need to be completed and filed by the end of June. Or July, or August, â€¦ All too often the Ministry is late in printing the returns, and inevitably the deadline is pushed further and further. This year, the official deadline was 31 August. If your tax adviser filed your tax return via Tax-on-web , it could even be as late as 30 October. And to push the irony, the Ministry confirmed on 9 November that electronic tax returns filed by the following day would still be on time.
There is one category of taxpayers for who the deadline keeps being delayed a bit more every year. Non-residents are supposed to file their tax returns by the end of June as well, but not many tax advisers remember the days when that was the case. For over a decade now, the deadline has been pushed back to October, November, December. And this year non-residents will not even file a tax return. The 2005 tax returns (that is for 2004 income) will probably have to be filed in February. (More …)
On 14 December 2005, the Belgian Parliament adopted a law that will gradually abolish bearer securities starting in 2008. The banks have already noted that investors are taking their bearer securities out of their safes.
Belgium is one of the few countries that still allow shares and bonds to be issued in the form of bearer securities. They helped create the myth of the Belgian dentist. For decades he has had an international reputation as the unsophisticated, reasonably well off investor with a predilection for bearer certificates.
The main advantage of bearer securities is that they can remain invisible. They allow the owner to transfer their securities and to collect the income in all anonymity. To counter the abuses which such anonymity allows, the socialist party insisted on the ban on bearer securities.
In his presentation to the Parliament, the Finance Minister emphasizes how bearer securities can be abused for financial crime and to finance terrorism. He explains how they offer opportunities to act against the law and to evade the tax. In particular, they can help an individual to circumvent the forced heirship rules and to disinherit some heirs to some extent.
End of Bearer Securities
It was already in the summer of 2003 that the Government decided to ban all bearer securities. The measure was a concession made by Finance Minister Reynders when the 2004 tax amnesty was put on the rails. The cost of the tax amnesty during 2004 was a general ban on all bearer securities with effect as of 2013.
The Law of 14 December 2005 (Belgian State Gazette, 23 December 2005) introduces a general ban on the issue of bearer securities starting in two years' time.
During a transitional period, no new bearer securities can be issued anymore. As of 1 January 2008, stock, profit shares, bonds and cash bonds, warrants or certificates can only be issued in the form registered or dematerialized securities. A dematerialized security is a record on an account with an acknowledged financial institution. The ban does not apply to commercial securities (such as letters of exchange, promissory notes, warrants, cheques), bearer bonds issued by a Belgian company outside Belgium, or securities governed by a jurisdiction other than Belgian law. Consequently, bearer securities which are registered on an investment account or which are not governed by Belgian law cannot be delivered anymore in bearer form.
If, on 31 December 2007, a bearer security is registered on a custody account or an investment account, it will automatically be converted into a dematerialized security. Belgian companies must modify their articles of association before the end of 2007 to comply with this obligation.
The owners or holders of any bearer securities which were (privately) issued after the law was published, must apply for conversion into registered or dematerialized form before 31 December 2012. For securities that were issued before the law was published, the deadline is 31 December 2013. If the owner of the securities fails to apply for conversion, the issuer can decide that the securities are automatically converted. If the owner or holder of the securities does not promptly apply for conversion, all rights associated with the right will be suspended until the securities are registered in his name or on an account of a recognized account-holder.
Moreover, if the owner has not come forward by 31 December 2015, the securities will be sold or offered for purchase by the issuer. The owner may apply for a refund of the sales price less a penalty of 10% per year.
This legislation will have an effect for many companies. The Federation of Belgian Enterprises estimates that some 150,000 companies are concerned. They are public limited companies (société anonyme), the limited partnerships with shares (société en commandite par actions) or open-ended collective investment companies (société d'investissement à capital variable (SICAV)). They will have to hold general shareholders' meetings to adopt their articles of association, and the financial sector will have to set up a working system of dematerialized securities.
Even before the law entered into force, the banks have felt its effect. Last week, they announced that they had noted a significant increase of securities accounts during 2005, in particular in the second half of the year.
If anyone has given stepmothers a bad name, it must be Cinderella and Snow White.
Nowadays, stepmothers have a career of their own and the means to live. All they want is to give and to receive some affection. But all the children see is that they are out to get dad's money. When dad goes, she will get a life interest on dad's estate, for the rest of her life. That means that she has the right to live in his houses, to keep the paintings on her walls, to administer his stock and bonds, collect the rent, the interest and the dividends. The only thing she cannot do is to sell the Van Gogh or the apartment in Knokke. (More …)