VAT in Brief – Imports in Belgium
By Filip Camps, ACCO Accountants
Ostensibly, whenever a company is importing goods into Belgium, the goods will be subject to a Belgian import VAT charge at the point of entrance of the goods in Belgium (however, see ET 14.000 below).
Depending on the nature of the goods involved, a VAT rate of 0%, 1%, 6%, 12% or 21% will be due. This import VAT can be claimed back on the condition that the entity that is claiming back the VAT is subject to VAT. The claim back can occur either by using the VAT portal, or by the introduction of a VAT return in case the entity involved is subject to quarterly or monthly VAT returns.
In case the entity involved is subject to monthly or quarterly VAT returns, they can introduce an application to acquire a so-called ET 14.000 license.
By obtaining the license, the entity involved can defer declaring the import VAT due via a ‘postponed accounting’ mechanism to their VAT returns. The result will be that there is no cash prefinancing involved.
Businesses that do not have an entity or permanent establishment in Belgium can opt for a direct VAT registration in circumstances where the foreign business belongs in the EU.
Please note that, in cases where a foreign business invoices under a direct Belgian VAT registration to another Belgian VAT number (not being a direct VAT registration of a foreign business), the reverse charge mechanism needs to be used.
Non-EU businesses can have a General Fiscal Representative or a Simplified Fiscal Representative perform their Belgian VAT obligations.
Only the General Fiscal Representative can apply for and obtain the ET 14.000 license. Please also note that a General Fiscal Representative will need to pay a guarantee up to an amount equal to the expected VAT due during the following twelve months.
For a Simplified Fiscal Representative the guarantee will be limited to 10% of this amount.
Finally, we want to draw your attention to the fact that Belgium has incorporated an extensive reverse charge mechanism in its internal VAT law. So please check upfront if this mechanism can be applied to avoid direct VAT registrations or Fiscal Representatives in Belgium.
Filip CampsACCO Accountants, Wilrijk, Belgium
T: +32 3 448 00 55
Running a business correctly administratively is not always enough to keep it competitive. For this reason, Acco Accountants does not limit itself to conducting and optimising accounting activities. It is positioned as an independent business advisor and consultant for both small- and medium-sized enterprises, as well as larger entities. This makes it possible to continuously improve a business from fiscal, legal and accounting standpoints. A dedicated team of employees enable the firm to combine their professional capabilities with an enhanced accessibility.
Filip Camps has a Master in Economics with Post Graduate specialisation in taxes. He has won a number of prizes in taxation, including the CED.Samsom prize. He is an author on tax-related topics and a former professor in tax at the KHL in Leuven.
Published: Winter 2017 l Photo: Uwe Rieder