By Alexis de Biolley, Brussels
After a two week break due to the Brussels attacks, the Belgian federal government reached a budget review agreement on Friday April 10th. The federal government decided on half a dozen measures to fill the 2.2 billion euro gap. The proposed measures include creating a more attractive fiscal regime for peer-to-peer activities but with the obligation for online platforms in the sharing economy to collect tax revenues. According to the official numbers, such a measure is expected to increase the States’ tax income by €20 million.
Alexander De Croo, the Belgian Federal Minister for the Digital Agenda, proposed this plan to reduce administrative burdens on people using peer-to-peer services as a complementary activity and to promote the growth of the sharing economy. De Croo said: “Peer-to-peer economy is fully growing. People are offering more and more services, like car sharing and babysitting through apps and platforms but the current tax system is not ready for the reality of this new economy. Many people called for a simple and transparent system and that’s what we will introduce now.”
Currently peer-to-peer income is unclearly taxed and most people do not file their revenues from sharing economy at all. People who do file their revenues are taxed at a 33% rate which, according to Minister De Croo, is too high for these type of services. The new maximum income to qualify for the low tax rate is to be determined by government within a few weeks as well as the impact on social security.
The transmission of information on taxation will also be changed: platforms will be required to hand over income rates to the Belgian tax administration and the taxes will be collected from the source as it currently happens for employers and their employees. According to the Minister this will minimize the administrative burden for people that want to start a small peer-to-peer side business as there will be no need to register.
People using peer-to-peer platforms in a professional way, however, should register as self-employed, a measure with which the government wants to assure classic professionals face no unfair competition.