FAQs and administrative guidelines on the partial exemption from the wage withholding tax in the framework of R&D

Nicolas de Limbourg 5 June 2015


A partial exemption from the wage withholding tax for qualified researchers carrying out research and development activities is provided. In practice, there was a discussion about the conditions to apply this exemption. The wave of tax audits regarding the partial exemption from the wage withholding tax, more in particular in the framework of R&D, demonstrated that clarification about certain conditions was required. Recently a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) (30 April 2015) and administrative guidelines (8 May 2015) have been published.

The FAQs confirm the application of the partial exemption from the wage withholding tax in the following cases:

  • Under certain conditions, the improvement or renewal of a production process;
  • R&D activities carried out upon a client’s request;
  • R&D activities carried out outside the company’s premises;

Besides the FAQs, the administrative guidelines of 8 May 2015 provide more guidance with respect to the required degree and remuneration which is eligible for the measure. The guidelines also withdraw the point of view of the prior Finance Minister and Belspo that an assistant or postdoctoral researcher within a university or recognised scientific research centre has to carry out at least 50% R&D activities in order to apply the partial exemption from the wage withholding tax.

It has been confirmed that it will only be possible to make application of the partial exemption from the wage withholding tax as from the moment that the R&D programme or project has been notified on the Belspo website. No retroactive application of the measure will be possible.