- The filing deadline for quarterly VAT returns will be moved from the 20th to the 25th day of the month following the relevant declaration period. In addition, the tolerance to file VAT returns late will be abolished.
- An automatic VAT return proposal will be provided by the VAT authorities in case of a late submission.
- Monthly VAT refund will be the rule.
- The VAT current account will be replaced by a provision account.
- A statutory time limit of one month was decided upon to respond to enquiries.
As a follow-up on the extension of the tax investigation and assessment periods for income taxes and VAT (see our prior newsflash here), more changes are to come in 2024.
Since the introduction of the VAT legislation, the processing of periodic VAT returns, payments and refunds nearly remained unchanged. This will change now as new measures have been adopted to modernize the processing of periodic VAT returns and the collection of debts. By introducing these new measures, the Belgian VAT Gap (i.e., the overall difference between the expected VAT revenue of Belgium and the amount actually collected) should be reduced.
New filing deadline for quarterly VAT returns
The filing deadline for quarterly VAT returns moves to the 25th day of the month following the declaration period (as from 2024). Currently, the filing deadline (irrespective if it is a monthly or quarterly return) is the 20th day of the month, following the relevant declaration period. For monthly VAT returns, the filing deadline will remain unchanged (i.e., the 20th day of the month following the declaration period).
As from 2024, monthly taxpayers will be eligible for monthly VAT refunds. Today, taxpayers who file monthly VAT returns can reclaim their VAT credits only on a quarterly basis. As an exception - upon a specific request - a monthly VAT refund can be obtained under specific conditions. Due to this change, the exception becomes the rule and all monthly taxpayers will be able to benefit from the monthly VAT refunds as of 2024.
The VAT refund will only relate to the periodic VAT return concerned (and not the accumulated VAT credits on several returns as it is the case today). The refund of accumulated VAT credits will need to be requested separately. Further, the VAT refund will not be granted if a VAT return has been submitted late during the last six months.
VAT provision account
The VAT current account is used to manage the payments of the VAT debts and refunds of the VAT credits. This account will disappear as of 2024 and will be replaced by a so-called "VAT provision account". The aim is the harmonization and automation of the collection processes. In particular, the taxpayer will be able to directly request the refund of the VAT credits reported on his provision account without any additional specific formalities (which not the case today). This will create a faster and easier way for the taxpayers to manage the VAT refunds.
Automatic VAT return proposal
As from 2024, taxpayers who fail to file a periodic VAT return on time will receive an automatic VAT return proposal three months after the filing deadline. This return will reinstate the highest VAT amount due in the periodic VAT returns filed in the previous 12 months. This can be contested within one month as from the receipt of the proposed VAT return, by submitting the (correct) periodic VAT return. If it is not contested, the automatic VAT return will be considered as definitive.
Once the automatic VAT return proposal becomes final, the taxpayer has to pay the VAT due with additional late payment interest (and a penalty in case of several infringements). At that time, the taxpayer can only contest the automatic VAT return by lodging an administrative appeal.
Fixed term to respond to enquiries
As from 2024, a statutory time limit of 30 days to answer a request for information will be in force. Currently, the Belgian VAT Code does not provide for such statutory time limit. As of 2024, the VAT law will therefore be aligned on this matter with the Belgian Income Tax Code. In case of valid reasons, this period may be extended upon request.
This one-month period shall be reduced to ten days in two cases: (i) when the rights of the Treasury are at risk or (ii) when the taxpayer asks for a VAT refund.
No specific penalty is foreseen in case of a late response. However, in case of a VAT refund request, the VAT authorities can withhold the VAT credit as a precautionary measure if the taxpayer fails to respond in due time.
We will touch upon these latest tax measures and other changes (to come) with respect to the Belgian VAT law during our next Ahead of tax webinar session on VAT. We will keep you informed as invites will follow.
Belgium: Tax Newsflash - New procedural measures - Recent bill provides amongst others for extended tax investigation and assessment periods
Belgium: Tax Newsflash - Increased focus on cross-border transactions and announced an extension of the reassessment period to 10 years for "complex" income tax returns