In Belgium, employers can grant a cycling allowance to employees who make use of a regular bike or an electric bike for travelling to and from work. This commuting allowance is generally tax-free (and exempt from social security contributions) up to a maximum amount of EUR 0,23 per kilometre.
In practice, employers are often only paying such a cycling allowance for employees who take the shortest way between their home and the workplace. However, the “shortest route” is not always the safest or nicest one for the employee.
In this respect, recently, the question was raised in the Belgian Federal Parliament whether the tax beneficial treatment of a cycling allowance is also applicable if the employee chooses a route which is not the shortest one. The Minister of Finance, Mr Johan Van Overtveldt, was clear in his reply. He confirmed that the effectively travelled route (which is used in reality by the employee) should be taken into account, without imposing any further conditions.
Of course, it can be advised to interpret this tolerance within reasonable limits. Consequently, when taking into account these effective kilometres of the chosen itinerary, employers may check that this is not disproportionate to what can be considered as a “normal route” to get to work.