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16 August 2018 / news

Guidelines regarding waiver of penalties in Belgian VAT matters!

If a taxable person violates Belgian VAT rules, even by simple omission, he will be required to pay the VAT that was not accounted for. On top of that the taxable person will be required to pay late payment interests (0.8% per month) in case of underpaid VAT.

The administrative penalties can be divided into two categories: (1) proportional penalties which correspond to a certain percentage of the VAT due (up to 200% in cases of fraud); and (2) non-proportional penalties which correspond to a lump sum amount. Each of these categories can furthermore be divided into two subcategories: the legal and the reduced penalties.

Taxable persons confronted with these high penalties and late payment interests have the possibility to apply for a reduction or waiver via a request. The request has to be filed with the competent VAT authorities in case of   penalties     Depending on the case at hand: the ‘Administration générale de l’Inspection spéciale des impôts/Algemene Administratie van de Bijzondere Belastinginspectie’ or the competent ‘conseil-général Directeur de centre/adviseur-generaal Centrumdirecteur’.  or   the competent tax collector    Conseiller général-Directeur de centre du Centre de recouvrement spécial ou du Centre de perception de l’Administration générale de la perception et du recouvrement/adviseur-generaal-centrumdirecteur van het bevoegde Regionale Invorderingscentrum of de directeur van het Bijzondere Invorderingscentrum of van het Inningscentrum van de Algemene Administratie van de Inning en Invordering’   , in case of late payments interests.

Until now there were no clear criteria for such a request and the success of it often depended on the degree of leniency applied by the competent civil servants and the degree of severity of the infringements committed.

Until now there were no clear criteria for such a request and the success of it often depended on the degree of leniency applied by the competent civil servants and the degree of severity of the infringements committed.

The Belgian authorities (FOD Financiën/SPF Finances) have now published guidelines (FR-NL) with the purpose to make the procedure more transparent for taxable persons.

The guidelines are applicable on all requests (to waive or reduce penalties and late payment interest) that are processed after the 1st of April 2018 and which relate to penalties imposed as of the 1st of January 2018.

Full waiver of penalties and late payment interests

  • A full waiver does only apply to penalties and late payment interests that were imposed to punish certain infringements which are specified / listed in the guidelines (e.g. the non-filing of the client/intracommunity listing, making material errors when completing the periodic VAT return). One should be aware that a full waiver of penalties / interests for a first infringement of the same nature within four years does not apply to all situations where Belgian VAT rules are breached.
  • Four conditions should be cumulatively met to apply the full remission of penalties and late payment interests:
  1. it concerns a first infringement of the same nature within a reference period of four years,
  2. the infringement has been committed in good faith. ‘Infringements committed in good faith’ means: infringements committed without fraudulent intent and whereby good faith is presumed,
  3. an individual and duly motivated remission of penalties application is filed,
  4. at the moment of the filing of the application, the taxpayer has complied with the sanctioned obligation and filed all its periodic VAT returns.
  • One supplementary condition applies for infringements detected following a VAT audit with no impact on the amounts to be reported in boxes 71 and 72 (e.g. intracommunity acquisitions performed by a taxable person who has a full right to deduct VAT): the taxable base of the invoices concerned should be included in the accounts of the taxpayer and in its periodic VAT returns.

Note that if certain VAT filing obligations are not complied with within the legal deadline, the VAT authorities will send a letter to remind the taxable person to rectify the situation within 30 days, in which case no penalties will be imposed.


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