April 2018 – VAT on immovable lease: back and forth

In the fall of last year, the government withdrew its project to subject immovable lease to VAT on option due to budget constraints.

Apparently, things have changed as, after the budget control of March 2018, the press release issued at that occasion announces that the measure will be taken with effect as from 1 October 2018.

Not so many details are available at this stage, but it seems that that the intention of the government is to make the option possible only:

  • for newly constructed or deeply renovated buildings;
  • if both the landlord and tenant agree to do so;
  • if the tenant is a VAT taxpayer including VAT exempt tenants such as insurance companies, financial institutions, etc.

Our Tax practice will keep you informed of the development as soon as rumours have changed into text.

Our fear is that such a limited scope of application creates a double real estate market detrimental to the readability of the sector of activity. Indeed, depending on the option is exercised or not (or can be exercised), the building investment cost will differ by 21%, which, in turn, will be reflected in the resale price in the future.

January 2018 – Caroline Lebon publishes updated overview of the principles of statutes of limitations in Belgian contract law

Caroline Lebon co-authored the update of her elaborate 2004 publication regarding the principles of statutes of limitations in Belgian contract law (published in the loose-leaf commentary “Artikelsgewijze commentaar verbintenissenrecht” – Kluwer).

More information regarding the publication may be found on: http://shop.wolterskluwer.be/shop/nl_BE/navigation/308/Bijzondere-Overeenkomsten.-Artikelsgewijze-commentaren?p=7500115299.

10 January 2018 – Belgium’s first step in GDPR implementation

As a first step in Belgium’s privacy reform, a new law was published today setting up a Belgian Data Protection Authority (replacing the current Belgian Privacy Commission) in anticipation of the future applicability of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). With this law, the Belgian Data Protection Authority acquires substantial investigative and judiciary powers, as well as new bodies which will be able to impose the sanctions introduced under the GDPR.

While the GDPR will provide for a greater degree of harmonization than the current regime , there are approximately 50 possibilities for Member States exceptions, additional requirements or specifications to the GDPR (e.g. in terms of processing of HR data, minimum age of children for consent, situations where a DPO is mandatory). These will be the subject of a separate piece of legislation, for which no draft is currently available.

October 2017 Update – Option to subject professional leasing to VAT initiative cancelled

Following up on our earlier post in September, we have meanwhile been informed that the Federal Government has ultimately decided past weekend to cancel the proposed introduction of an optional mechanism to subject professional leasing to VAT for notably budgetary reasons.

We believe this is highly unfortunate. The introduction of such a system could have drastically improved the competitivity of professional tenants towards foreign competitors and could have affected the real estate market on various fronts. Importantly, the system would have eliminated the need for complex structures to make the VAT-system applicable to a priori exempted transactions.

Notwithstanding the above, it cannot be excluded that the Federal Government may still introduce more minor changes to the existing real estate VAT regimes such as regarding the putting at the disposal of storage facilities. The discussions regarding these matters is still ongoing and other initiatives may still be developed.

Our Tax practice will keep you up date regarding these evolutions via our News section.

September 2017 – Option to subject professional leasing to VAT

Bruno De Duve, who leads our Tax practice group, & Helene Mulier, summer intern, discuss in depth the recent legislative initiative of the Belgian Federal Government to allow the possibility to subject to VAT the mere letting of an immovable property to a business subject to VAT as of 1 January 2018. This draft bill may drastically improve the competitivity of professional tenants towards foreign competitors and may effect the real estate market on various fronts.

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Anouk De Graef appointed Chairman of the Georgia Business Club

Anouk De Graef, VW’s real estate partner, has been appointed Chairman of the Georgia Business Club. The Georgia Business Club is an Antwerp-based real estate platform for constructors, entrepreneurs and the liberal professions. For the time being, Georgia Business Club is composed of 56 members active in various sectors: developers, investors, architects, constructors, real estate brokers, architects, … For all Georgia Business Club’ events, please see https://lnkd.in/gCRT23Z.