The compulsory school age throughout Belgium has been lowered from 6 years to 5. As from September 2020, all children that reach the age of 5 are considered of school age. This can also have an impact for companies employing foreigners under the special tax regime for foreign executives and specialists in Belgium.
Costs proper to the employer: reimbursement of specific expenses
Foreigners who are working in Belgium under application of the special expatriate tax regime typically incur additional expenses resulting directly from their assignment or employment in Belgium. Some of these expenses may qualify as “tax-free costs proper to the employer”, if certain conditions are met.
It concerns for example expenses such as educational costs for the children. These include school/tuition fees and local transport for children receiving primary or secondary education at an international or private school in Belgium (or potentially abroad). If these expenses are reasonable and taken at charge by the employer, these expenses qualify as tax-free in the hands of the expatriate. Expenses related to meals, boarding or additional leisure activities remain a taxable benefit in kind for the expatriate, if the cost is borne by the employer.
Primary education in Belgium used to be obligatory as from the age of 6, but has now been lowered to the age of 5. Children born in 2015 (that reach the age of 5 during calendar year 2020) are as such legally required to attend kindergarten as from September 2020. The payment or reimbursement (by the employer) of educational expenses related to the 3rd year of kindergarten (3e kleuterklas/3e maternelle) will therefore also be considered as tax-free in the hands of the expatriate. Please note that (the payment or reimbursement of) a 5-year old’s tuition fees related to 2nd kindergarten remain a taxable benefit in kind, even if the child is 5 years old.
Impact for the employer
Due to the lowering of the compulsory school age, employers should reflect on the following:
- how to inform impacted expatriates of this legislative change;
- whether any educational expenses (relating to 3rd kindergarten of 5-year olds) will be reimbursed and added to the 2020 payroll;
- whether the global mobility policy should be aligned with the lowered compulsory school age;
PwC is available to help you meet these challenges. In case of any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Sandrine Schaumont or Philip Maertens.