Belgium – Green tax incentives for industrial and commercial buildings

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Climate change has become part of our everyday lives. This includes tax lawyers on the lookout of tax incentives for their clients. Below you will find an outline of green tax incentives for industrial or commercial buildings in Belgium. Indeed, such tax incentives may help you achieve your companies’ sustainability goals. Other green tax incentives exist in Belgium but the focus here is on industrial and commercial buildings.

Reduction of Machinery and equipment tax (MET)

Fixed assets, such as machinery & equipment in industrial or commercial companies are considered immovables (buildings), subject to property tax (the MET). In Belgium this is a regional tax. The Brussels Capital Region and the Walloon Region abolished the MET.

The Flemish Region adopted a different policy by reducing (possibly to nothing) the MET and by incentivizing companies to invest in new machinery and equipment or to replace older machinery and equipment.

How is this achieved?

  • No indexation of the taxable base
  • A (full) reduction of the portion of the Flemish treasury in the MET (the local authority where the company is situated receives the proceeds of the MET)
  • Exemption for new investments or the replacement of machinery & equipment: the exemption depends on an energy policy agreement between the company and the Flemish government (on the basis of the Flemish Energy Code). The purpose is to reduce CO2-emissions and to enhance energy efficiency.

However, companies with a historical presence in the Flemish region (brownfield companies) felt that they had a competitive disadvantage compared to greenfield companies: their older machinery was taxed as before. It must be noted that some of these companies employ a lot of people.

The Flemish government therefore adopted legislation that for investments in machinery and equipment between 01/2014 and 12/2019 a reduction of the taxable base of older machinery and equipment is granted on the basis of the taxable base of the new (exempted) investments. It is not yet confirmed that this tax exemption will be prolonged or made permanent beyond 2019, however it is expected that the above tax policy in the Flemish Region will be continued, thus reducing (possibly to nothing) the MET.

120% cost deduction for investments in bicycle infrastructure for employees

Personal and corporate income tax is mainly a national matter in Belgium. A 120% cost deduction has been put in place for investments in bicycle infrastructure for employees, such as a bicycle parking and other infrastructure for cyclists (shower, …).

Exemption of taxable profits for investments in new fixed assets

Another (national) income tax incentive is the exemption of taxable profits (‘investeringsaftrek’ – ‘déduction pour investissement’) of 13,5% of the investments in new fixed assets in energy efficient technology.

A tax credit for investments in sustainable fixed assets

In corporate income tax (as I said before a national matter) there is a tax credit for research and development (’belastingkrediet’ – ‘crédit d’impôt’) calculated on the basis of the corporate income tax rate (currently 29,58%) for investments in sustainable fixed assets.

Please note that Belgian corporate income tax for SME’s is 20% on the first 100.000,00 EURO turnover (subject to conditions). For all companies the corporate income tax rate will decrease to 25% as from 2020.

Hopes are that both at the national level and at the respective regional levels new green tax incentives will be adopted in order to encourage sustainable investments in Belgium.

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Ferenc Ballegeer
  • Conflict of law
  • Tax

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