Federal Public Department Finance launches new centres for ‘large companies’

Written by Philippe Vanclooster 13 July 2015


‘Large companies’

The Belgian government has changed the way tax audits and dispute resolution for large companies are being organised. More in particular, 7 new centres for ‘large companies’ and a centre for ‘large companies management and specialised tax audits’ are set up as from 1 July 2015.

7 centres for ‘large companies’

The 7 new centres will manage the tax audits and dispute resolution for large companies. In doing so, the government intends to tailor its services to the large companies’ needs by ensuring a more holistic and adequate approach. The tax matter itself, such as VAT or corporate income tax, will no longer determine how the services of the Belgian tax authorities are organised: the company or organization will be the starting point. The 7 centres will manage about 15,000 companies and non-profit organisations.

At the moment, files are still monitored by the existing corporate tax, legal entities tax and non-resident tax audit inspectors but the new centres will be operational as from 1 July 2016.

Centre for ‘large companies’ management and specialised tax audits’

The government will also set up a centre for ‘large companies’ management and specialised tax audits’ in Brussels. It will serve as a single point of contact for large entities and will answer several queries, such as specific tax questions, questions about certificates and permits, questions about the terms for filing tax returns, etc.

This centre will also be responsible for the tax audits and dispute resolution in four specific areas: specific sectors, transfer pricing, tax shelter and various taxes.

Which companies?

The definition of a ‘large company’ is still work in progress, but basically a company would qualify as a large company if one of the following criteria is met:

  • The company qualifies (on a consolidated basis) as a large entity under section 15 of the Belgian Companies Code. The criteria will be updated in the near future but for the time being, a company is large when it has more than 100 employees or if it exceeds at least two of the following thresholds for two consecutive years:
    • the annual average of employed personnel is larger than 50;
    • the annual turnover excluding VAT exceeds EUR 7,300,000;
    • the balance sheet total exceeds EUR 3,650,000.
  • The company is supervised by the FSMA or NBB or is listed at the Federal Public Department Finance as a private privak/pricaf;
  • The company is part of a group of companies;
  • The company is member of a VAT grouping that has at least one member that qualifies as a large company under the previous criteria.

Conclusion

A single point of contact for large companies could simplify the communication between the taxpayer and the tax authorities. Although this is not yet certain, the creation of 7 centres might lead to a wave of tax audits of large companies, and most probably an increased focus on non-large companies (by the local tax inspectors being no longer responsible for large companies).

In case of any assistance upon (preparation for) a tax audit, please contact your PwC tax consultant.