New Belgian expat regime for inbound taxpayers and researchers

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A new Belgian expat regime for inbound taxpayers and researchers has come into force from 1 January 2022 onwards. Just like the Dutch 30% tax ruling regime, there is a tax-free reimbursement of 30% of the gross taxable salary for the expat. Besides, the Belgian expat regime may seem more favorable than the Dutch since the grant of 5 years can be extended to 3 years. The grant can only be extended when you apply within 6 months after the 5 years and still meet the conditions of the Belgium tax regime.

However, the question remains if this new tax regime is more beneficial. Not every expat can apply for this regime, because of the annual threshold of €75.000. This means that employees and directors should at least earn €75.000 of their gross salary, variable remunerations and benefits. Researchers may not need to meet this threshold, but 80% of their work should be directly related to research and development activities. Researchers should also have a specific master’s degree or have at least 10 years of relevant experience in a specific science field. Also do not forget that all expats (employees, directors, and researchers) should have no connection to Belgium for a period of 60 months prior to the assignment or employment in Belgium.

There is also a limitation of the 30% tax-free reimbursement of €90.000 per year, which may sound less attractive for high income earners. While on the bright side, moving and relocation costs, costs for furnishing the accommodation in Belgium and some school fees are outside the limitation of €90.000 per year. Expats may also enjoy Belgian tax benefits and claim tax treaty protection for income taxed abroad since they are deemed as Belgian tax residents under the new expat regime. 

The downside of being a Belgian tax resident is that you are taxed on your worldwide income in Belgium.