On 10 December 2015, the Belgian Parliament voted – in plenary session – the bill “on the communication of information relating to financial accounts, by Belgian financial institutions and the Federal Public Authority of Finance, within the framework of an automatic exchange of information at international level for tax purposes”.
The purpose of this new Belgian Act is (amongst other things) to implement Directive 2014/107/EU (amending Directive 2011/16/EU as regards automatic exchange of information in the field of taxation), the US-Belgium Intergovernmental Agreement of 23 April 2014 (on FATCA) and the multilateral agreement signed on 29 October 2014 within the framework of the Common Reporting Standard (CRS).
Proposed amendments to the initial draft (voted in commission) were rejected.
After promulgation and signature by the King, the Act will have to be published in the Belgian official gazette. It will then enter into force 10 days after its publication with respect to the United States and EU Member States. For other States, the entry into force will be determined by Royal Decree.
Particular attention should be paid to the short deadline imposed on Financial Institutions as regards the first FATCA reporting (relating to the period between 1 July and 31 December 2014) that will be due within 10 days from the date the Act is published in the Belgian official gazette.
Moreover, before the first reporting, Financial Institutions will have to inform the individuals concerned (amongst other things) that personal data will be reported. The contents and timing of such communication are specified in article 14. Individuals can request communication of the specific data reported in relation to an account and have a right of correction of personal data.
Sanctions are provided for in the event of non-compliance. A EUR 1,000 penalty can be imposed per account not reported consistently with the Act. A penalty of EUR 2,500 is applicable with respect to other breaches (except for breaches of article 14 that can be punished under the Belgian Privacy Protection Act of 8 December 1992). These penalties are doubled in the case of fraudulent intent. Criminal sanctions provided for by the Belgian Income Tax Code may be applicable in the case of fraud.