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TRUSTS AND OFFSHORE STRUCTURES to be declared in your TAX return?
 
With an amendment to the Bill containing various provisions the government wants to introduce the obligation to declare the existence of offshore trusts and foundations in your tax return.

In your annual income tax return, you would have to declare that you, your spouse or minor children are the founder of a "legal arrangement" or that you know you are a beneficiary or a potential beneficiary of a legal arrangement.

By using the term "legal arrangement", the government aims at trusts and uses a definition that is similar to the definition in the Private International Law Code.

Legal arrangements are also foreign corporations, associations or foundations, that are not liable to income tax or that are liable to a lower income tax regime that is more advantageous than the Belgian income tax regime for the income of capital and movables if the legal rights to the shares are held entirely or partially by a Belgian resident or if the beneficiary of the shares or the economic rights to the assets and capitals is a Belgian resident.  A Royal Decree will draw up a list of entities in tax havens and other countries; this will be based on the list in in Annex 1 of the proposed Directive amending the Savings Directive (Directive 2003/48/EC (Com (2008) 727 final))

The founder of the legal arrangement is not only the individual who has founded it outside his professional activity (the settlor), but also the individual who has transferred property or rights to a legal arrangement founded by a third party (the person who has funded a trust settled by a third party). After the death of either of these founders, their heirs are deemed to be the founders unless they can prove that they or their own heirs will not at any time or in any way benefit of any financial or other advantages granted by the legal arrangement.

If the legal arrangement is a company, the founder is the person that holds the shares or legal rights or economic rights on the assets and capitals held by the legal arrangement.

It is not yet clear how much information will have to be given, but we can assume that we will have to check a box just like we do with foreign bank accounts and overseas life insurance policies.

If you hide your assets in a legal arrangement, either fraudulently or with the intent to harm, you risk imprisonment between eight days and two years and/or a fine of 1,500 to 3,000,000 euros.

Source: amendments submitted to the Committee on Social Affairs Doc 53 2891/004



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