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The Exchange of Tax Information Portal is an initiative of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes. The Global Forum conducts peer reviews of its member jurisdictions' ability to co-operate with other tax administrations in accordance with the internationally agreed standard. The standard provides for exchange of information on request where it is foreseeably relevant to the administration and enforcement of the domestic tax laws of the requesting jurisdiction. Effective exchange of information requires that jurisdictions ensure information is available, that it can be obtained by the tax authorities and that there are mechanisms in place allowing for the exchange of that information. The Global Forum's peer review process examines both the legal and regulatory aspects of exchange (Phase 1 reviews) and the exchange of information in practice (Phase 2). The EOI Portal will track the development of these peer reviews, including changes that jurisdictions make in response to the Global Forum's recommendations.

Peer Review: Belgium Second Round Review (2018)

This report for Belgium has been published on 4 Apr 2018. You can browse it online below.

Skip directly to the Executive Summary. You may also want to view the tables of determinations and ratings.


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Determinations and Recommendations

Jurisdictions should ensure that ownership and identity information for all relevant entities and arrangements is available to their competent authorities. (ToR A.1)
Determination Factors Recommendations
The element is in place.      
Phase 2 Rating Factors Recommendations
Largely Compliant.  The obligation for companies and partnerships to keep a register of their beneficial owners entered into force in October 2017, so it has not been possible to assess its practical implementation.   The Belgian authorities should ensure the effective implementation of the obligation for companies and partnerships to keep an updated register of beneficial owners.  
Jurisdictions should ensure that reliable accounting records are kept for all relevant entities and arrangements. (ToR A.2)
Determination Factors Recommendations
The element is in place.      
Phase 2 Rating Factors Recommendations
Compliant.     
Banking information should be available for all account-holders. (ToR A.3)
Determination Factors Recommendations
The element is in place.      
Phase 2 Rating Factors Recommendations
Compliant.     
Competent authorities should have the power to obtain and provide information that is the subject of a request under an exchange of information arrangement from any person within their territorial jurisdiction who is in possession or control of such information (irrespective of any legal obligation on such person to maintain the secrecy of the information). (ToR B.1)
Determination Factors Recommendations
The element is in place, but certain aspects of the legal implementation of the element need improvement.   The Belgian authorities do not have effective enforcement provisions to compel the production of information; sanctions are not proportionate and sufficiently dissuasive. Exchange of information was impeded in practice in the rare cases when information holders refused to provide information to the Belgian authorities.  Belgium should provide the competent authority with effective enforcement powers to compel the production of information. 
Prior to legislative change in October 2017 inserting the requirement for companies to create and keep a register of their beneficial owners, the Belgian competent authorities and local tax offices had no access to information on beneficial owners in the event that the ownership chain extended beyond Belgium. This information was available with entities subject to the anti-money laundering law, but the tax authorities do not have access to it. Information is now available with companies and partnerships.   Belgium is recommended to monitor the implementation of the new provisions on access to information concerning registers of beneficial owners of Belgian entities, and to ensure access for the tax authorities to information on beneficial owners available with the entities subject to the AML Law. 
Phase 2 Rating Factors Recommendations
Largely Compliant.  Prior to legislative reform in July 2017, in the event that a request for information related to a tax year going back more than three years, the requesting authority was asked to confirm the existence of fraud indications to enable the collection of information. This condition impeded the exchange of information.  Belgium is recommended to monitor implementation of the new provisions on access to information concerning tax years going back more than three years. 
   
The rights and safeguards (e.g. notification, appeal rights) that apply to persons in the requested jurisdiction should be compatible with effective exchange of information. (ToR B.2)
Determination Factors Recommendations
The element is in place, but certain aspects of the legal implementation of the element need improvement.   During the review period, exceptions to the requirement of prior notification or post-exchange notification were not applicable to all the cases in which the notification was likely to undermine the chances of success of the foreign investigation. Since the legislative reform of July 2017 waiver of notification is subject to “serious indications of tax fraud”; the interpretation of this concept is not yet established.  The Belgian authorities should ensure that the implementation of the concept of “serious indications of tax fraud” is compatible with an effective exchange of information. 
Phase 2 Rating Factors Recommendations
Largely Compliant.     
Exchange of information mechanisms should provide for effective exchange of information. (ToR C.1)
Determination Factors Recommendations
The element is in place.      
Phase 2 Rating Factors Recommendations
Compliant.     
The jurisdictions' network of information exchange mechanisms should cover all relevant partners. (ToR C.2)
Determination Factors Recommendations
The element is in place.      
Phase 2 Rating Factors Recommendations
Compliant.     
The jurisdictions' mechanisms for exchange of information should have adequate provisions to ensure the confidentiality of information received. (ToR C.3)
Determination Factors Recommendations
The element is in place.      
Phase 2 Rating Factors Recommendations
Largely Compliant.  Law of 11 April 1994 on disclosure of information by the administration includes an exception when documents are covered by secrecy. A new ICT provision introduces an explicit exception for exchange of information when disclosure of information would prejudice an ongoing investigation, based on explicit refusal of the foreign authority. The exception has not yet been tested in practice or another exception in the Law of 1994 on the protection of international relations.  Belgium is recommended to monitor the application of the Law of 1994 to guarantee that treaty provisions on confidentiality are respected. 
The exchange of information mechanisms should respect the rights and safeguards of taxpayers and third parties. (ToR C.4)
Determination Factors Recommendations
The element is in place.      
Phase 2 Rating Factors Recommendations
Compliant.     
The jurisdiction should provide information under its network of agreements in a timely manner. (ToR C.5)
Determination Factors Recommendations
The element is in place, but certain aspects of the legal implementation of the element need improvement.      
Phase 2 Rating Factors Recommendations
Compliant.