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What are the rules for VAT liability and invoicing in Belgium?

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Marie Vereecke

New rules were introduced on 1 January 2013 within the context of transposing the Invoicing Directive into the Belgian VAT code. Between 2013 and 2014, some administrative tolerance was permitted thanks to a transitional arrangement. This transitional arrangement came to an end in 2015 and was replaced with a definitive system.

How does it generally work?

In principle, the taxable event takes place, and the tax is payable when the goods are delivered or the service is provided. The VAT-registered party must issue an invoice to its client by the 15th day of the month following the taxable event.

For example, goods are delivered or a service is provided on 25/01/2018. This transaction must be invoiced by 15/02/2018. The requirement specifies that this transaction must be included in the VAT return for 02/2018 (to be submitted by 31/03/2018).


If no invoice has been issued before, and the only invoice issued is done so late, VAT is still payable by the 15th day. In this case, the controller can impose late payment interest from 15/02/2018 and a fine of between 25 EUR and 5,000 EUR depending on the breach. For more information, all of these breaches are described in Royal Decree no. 44 of 9 July 2012, section 2.


However, there are several exemptions to this basic rule, depending on the type of transaction in question.  We have identified the two most commonly encountered exemptions.

The first is when the invoice is issued before the taxable event. VAT is then payable on the invoice date. The relevant VAT return is therefore the one for 01/2018 (to be submitted by 28/02/2018).


The second is when VAT is payable when payment is received. For example, for deliveries of movable assets to public bodies (B2G).


Limitations of the article

This article does not cover all the possible cases, and may therefore not be accurate in some cases.  We therefore recommend that anybody affected by this legislation contacts the SPF Finances Call Centre (https://finances.belgium.be/fr/Contact) for any additional information about this law.

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