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How do I fill in my tax declaration?

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Would you like to know how best to fill in your tax declaration? Follow these very simple tips: they will help you avoid a good many sizeable pitfalls!

What not to do:

- take last year’s tax declaration out of your computer archives or your folder of papers and recopy the new amounts to be declared opposite the same headings as the previous year. Why? Quite simply because every year, several dozen elements change in the declaration form (these are known as the declaration “codes”). Some new codes are introduced, others are removed, other change position on the form (they are known as “boxes” and are numbered using Roman numerals: they group income together by type).

- get down to the task of completing your electronic tax declaration on tax-on-web a week before the legal deadline. You’re sure to suffer because of an overload – or even a blockage - on the Federal Finance Department’s tax-on-web IT application and be obliged to start your “citizen’s duty” again several times.

- think that the numbers of the codes in the tax declaration follow one another in chronological order: beware: they don’t! It complicates the job of filling in the form, admittedly, but that’s the way it is!

What you should do:

- take the tax slips and certificates that you have as a basis, and take the trouble to check that the “prefilled” codes in the tax-on-web electronic declaration correspond exactly to your figures: in fact, these codes that are filled in automatically are far from always being correct! Above all, pay attention to tips and service vouchers: the prefilled codes are very often reduced.

- always check carefully (this applies for the self-employed, but also – which is less well known – for salaried employees), whether it is more advantageous to declare your real professional expenses or use the legal flat rate for costs. If you are not sure, take advice from a tax professional. The amount at stake is often significant.

- if, despite all your efforts, you are unable to access your electronic tax declaration on tax-on-web (it happens more often than you might think), either because of an ineffective identity card reader, or a recent browser that is not compatible with tax-on-web, or because married couples are inexplicably “seen” as single by tax-on-web, etc., stay calm and try to contact your tax office. The address is given on the back of the first page of your notice of assessment, the calculation of the tax for the previous year. If necessary, if the problem comes from the IT application at the Federal Finance Department, you will be sent a “paper” declaration form.

- consider: the advice of a good tax consultant will often help you earn more in saved taxes than the fee you will be charged. The increasing complexity of the tax legislation has made the annual declaration of income far more difficult and sometimes even incomprehensible (for example, as regards the choice between the possible tax optimisation options).

What to avoid at all costs:

- exceeding the legal deadline for the submission of your tax return, and giving illness or a prolonged absence from Belgium as a reason. These grounds are not accepted. If an unforeseen event really has prevented you from submitting your tax declaration on time, it is best to contact a firm of tax consultants. They have a longer deadline, usually until 31 October of the current year, to submit tax declarations, and can ensure that you benefit from this extension as part of their normal services.

- not submitting a tax declaration at all, hoping that the tax authorities will forget about you. That is highly unlikely and in addition you give the tax authorities the right to “tax you automatically”, i.e. to calculate your tax on the basis of the elements in their possession only, which will almost always be unfavourable to you. Note that in this case, the burden of proof lies with you! Definitely to be avoided!