Update – Benefit in kind (smart)phone & split bill

Written by Nicolas de Limbourg 20 February 2018


In the Newsflashes of 26 October 2017, 13 November 2017 and 22 December 2017, we already made reference to the new rules regarding the lump-sum valuation for the benefits in kind (in relation to the private use) of a PC, laptop, GSM, smartphone, tablet and internet put at the disposal via the employer.

As from 1 January 2018, the following lump-sum valuations are applicable:

 

Tablet, GSM or smartphone (per device)

 

€36 per year (€3 per month)
Free internet

 

€60 per year (€5 per month for fixed and/or mobile internet, regardless of the number of internet connections and regardless of the number of devices)
Phone subscription (device not included)

 

€ 48 per year (€4 per month)

Consequently, the total value of the benefit in kind for smartphone also including a phone subscription and mobile internet amounts to € 144 per year (€ 12 per month).

Recently, the Belgian Minister of Finance received a parliamentary question regarding so-called ‘split-bill arrangements’ for a phone and/or internet subscription in combination with a company provided (smart)phone. In practice, when employers make use of a split billing system, actually a split-up of the expenses is made between the professional part and the private part of the phone and/or internet usage. The employer usually pays the expenses up to a certain limit (fixed amount or data volume) and the excess is billed directly by the phone/internet provider to the employee.

The Minister concluded that if the employer provides a GSM/smartphone with mobile phone subscription/internet subscription, no taxable benefit in kind should be taken into account (even not for the use of the device itself), provided that a realistic split bill arrangement is used whereby the total costs above a certain limit are charged directly to the employee (end-user of the GSM/smartphone). This means that the split up of the professional and the private part of the usage should be based on serious norms and criteria and thus in line with reality. The Minister emphasised that this position regarding split billing is only applicable for GSM’s and smartphones and cannot be applied to other benefits in kind.