On 17 October 2019, the Belgian Constitutional Court ruled that the law of 7 February 2018 introducing the annual tax on securities accounts (“TSA”) is unconstitutional due, among other things, to infringement of the principles of equality and non-discrimination.
This ruling annuls the TSA with effect as of 1 October 2019. Although certainly welcome from the taxpayer perspective, the sharp turn gives rise to legal uncertainty for financial institutions. Having said that, we believe that this decision should have a limited impact for foreign banks, such as in Switzerland, who were often merely providing their Belgian clientele with enhanced client statements for the purposes of the TSA. Our Belgian colleagues have written in more detail about the topic in their local blog.
On the legal side, it is worth mentioning that this decision has no retroactive effect and thus, in principle, the tax due for the past (for the taxable periods ending on or before 30 of September 2019) still has to be reported and paid. Depending on the specific facts and circumstances, banks’ Belgian clients may wish to consult with their tax and legal advisors in Belgium to determine whether initiating legal action for a refund of the TSA for the past would be possible and worthwhile.
As for the future, it is anticipated that, for budgetary and political reasons, the Belgian legislator will review its work and that a new TSA version 2.0 (or a similar net wealth tax) will see the light of day down the road. As such, banks should not dispose the procedures implemented for the TSA just yet, as they may become relevant again in the future.
KPMG’s tax teams will be pleased to respond to any questions regarding this recent ruling, or any other matters concerning Belgian taxes.