New withholding tax exemption for variable shifts adopted in Parliament

Published


On 3 May 2024, the Belgian Parliament adopted the law concerning the new exemption of withholding tax for shift work with variable shifts. The law introduces the “variant bis”, aiming to ensure clarity and legal security, mitigating recent judicial decisions that restricted the definition of qualifying shift. For more information, we refer to our previous newsflash of 28 March 2024.

Key Features of the New Legislation:

  • Shift Requirements: The previous condition demanding equal scope for all shifts has been replaced. Now, a proportional correction factor will be applied to account for any variations in the size and frequency of shifts.
  • Retroactive Application: The updated regulations will be applied retrospectively from the income year 2021 and are set to continue until the end of 2026. 

This adaptation ensures that businesses employing varied shift patterns can maintain eligibility for the withholding tax exemptions. More importantly, due to the retro-active character of the new measure, it will also impact potentially pending audits or litigation cases.

What should organisations do?

In the explanatory note attached to the draft law, the Minister of Finance has included a number of guiding principles that will facilitate the argumentation process of the tax authorities during audit. Moreover, it is expected that the new measure will further increase the overall cost of the withholding tax exemptions regimes. 

With this in mind, it leaves little doubt that the authorities will up their efforts on the audits on the withholding tax exemption regimes to ensure compliance based on the new rules. 

It is therefore paramount that organisations that are operating in shifts analyse the risks and opportunities associated with the application of the withholding tax exemption and ensure that they have the right procedures in place to properly collect the relevant information and implement the correct amounts in the payroll. 

Further Details and Support:

For more insights on partial withholding tax exemptions, fiscal audits and further assistance with the application thereof, please reach out to your regular PwC contact, Pieter Nobels (pieter.nobels@pwc.com) or Pierre Demoulin (pierre.demoulin@pwc.com). 

For clients that want to have a first idea on whether this new measure has an impact for them, PwC has set up a free quick self-scan assessment that allows clients to understand impact and urgency.