Publication date: 17 February 2017
I am writing to you as Chief Executive of the European Banking Federation (EBF) which is the voice of European banks, in relation to the recent extension of the territorial scope of the Belgian stock exchange tax (taxe sur les opérations de bourse / taks op de beursverrichtingen) (hereinafter referred to as the “Tax”).
Per the Belgian Finance Law of 25 December 2016, the scope of the Tax is extended, as from 1 January 2017, to securities transactions made by Belgian residents through intermediaries established abroad. This extension is of direct relevance for banks established outside Belgium and executing securities transactions for the account of Belgian residents.
In the absence of any detailed guidance, European banks will have practical difficulties to comply with the related requirements in such unrealistic timeframe.
In view of the background which is detailed in the appendix, I would like to present you with the three following suggestions.
The framework and practical arrangements applicable for the collection and payment of the Tax regarding transactions performed by foreign intermediaries need to be confirmed as soon as possible. This would essentially entail a clarification of the options offered to foreign intermediaries under Belgian law, as well as the obligations related to such options.
The executive orders (French: arrêtés royaux) required in order to confirm the formalities for the appointment of a representative in Belgium as well as the format and content of the information to be reported in the relevant tax returns should be adopted forthwith.
Last but not least, more time is required by foreign intermediaries to understand the scope of the Belgian legislation at hand and to make the necessary adaptations in their systems and procedures. Pending a clarification of the points mentioned in the appendix, an adequate transitional relief should be allowed for foreign intermediaries and their clients as regards the filing of the relevant returns and the effective payment of the Tax. During any such transitional relief period, we recommend that transactions made by foreign 2 www.ebf.eu intermediaries should not trigger any penalties under Belgian law in case of late payment of the Tax and/or late remittance of the related returns to the competent Belgian authority.
Considering the reliefs and postponements usually granted by other countries regarding the implementation of tax measures targeting non-resident intermediaries, we trust that the above suggestions are more than reasonable.
We would very much welcome your position regarding these matters at your earliest convenience. We remain at your disposal either by conference call or in the framework of a meeting in Brussels.