Bear in mind that companies that don’t pay enough of their tax in advance now face larger surcharges.
As of 2018 (for the tax year 2019), you will have to pay a higher surcharge if your corporation tax pre-payments aren’t large enough. Companies that didn’t previously pay much attention to pre-payments during the course of the tax year are strongly advised to do so now. Nothing has changed for self-employed people subject to personal taxation.
From 2018 onwards, it’s particularly important to make your tax pre-payments
The surcharges imposed in the event of insufficient pre-payments have been calculated for years based on ECB interest rates. But this reference rate has been less than 1% in recent years, obliging the government to set higher surcharges by Royal Decree.
It was decided at the end of 2016 that a permanent solution was needed, and so new legislation was passed, which comes into effect as of the 2018 tax year (i.e. for all financial years commencing 1 January 2017).
Since then, the reference rate has been set at a minimum of 1%. Under the ‘Summer Agreement’ approved at the end of 2017, the rate was further increased to 3% in the case of corporation tax. The reference rates are multiplied by 2.25 to arrive at the final surcharge applied to the amount of tax payable. In specific terms, this means that as of the 2019 tax year (financial years commencing 1 January 2018), the surcharge imposed on non-payment or underpayment of advance corporation tax has tripled from 2.25% to 6.75% of the tax liability. The same applies for subsequent years, when the surcharge will be at least 6.75%.
The ‘Summer Agreement’ also scraps the so-called ‘de minimis’ rule in relation to corporation tax, which means the surcharge will also apply if it is less than 0.50% of the tax liability or less than EUR 50.
The government aims in this way to encourage more companies to make tax pre-payments (in good time) in periods of low interest rates.
The benefits of pre-payments
Companies are not obliged to make pre-payments. The advantage of doing so is that the surcharge described above can be reduced or avoided. Businesses do not, however, qualify for the kind of tax benefit available to private individuals, which means there is nothing to be gained by making an unnecessarily high pre-payment.
A cut-off date for the pre-payments is set for each quarter throughout the financial year. The earlier in the financial year that you make a pre-payment, the more any eventual surcharge is reduced. Due to the increase in the reference interest rate, these reductions have also been tripled.
In specific terms, a company whose financial year coincides with the calendar year and which...
- makes a pre-payment before 10/04/2019 (first quarter), receives a 9% reduction
- makes a pre-payment before 10/07/2019 (second quarter), receives a 7.5% reduction
- makes a pre-payment before 10/10/2019 (third quarter), receives a 6% reduction
- makes a pre-payment before 20/12/2019 (fourth quarter), receives a 4.5% reduction
... calculated in each case on the amount of the pre-payment for that quarter.
The cut-off dates for companies whose financial year does not coincide with the calendar year fall on the tenth day of the fourth, seventh and tenth month and on the twentieth day of the final month of the financial year. Specific rules are provided for companies with a financial year of more or less than twelve months.
The new rules mean that a surcharge for the tax year 2020 can be avoided if 75% of the tax liability is paid during the first quarter or 90% of the tax liability is paid during the second quarter. If pre-payments are only made in the third and/or fourth quarter, more than 100% of the tax liability must be paid to avoid an increase.
For self-employed people subject to personal taxation (such as a manager or company director), similar rules apply as for companies, although the rates have not been increased in this case (surcharge of 2.25%, reductions of 3%, 2.5%, 2% or 1.5%). The ‘de minimis’ rule also continues to apply and the calculation of the potential surcharge only differs by a few percentage points. What’s more, an additional tax benefit or rebate is granted in the case of personal taxation on pre-payments that exceed the amount required to avoid a tax surcharge. This benefit is calculated quarterly at half the percentages set out above.
How much tax is it best to pre-pay?
- You are free to choose the amount. But you should bear in mind that if you wait until the third or fourth quarter, you will have to pay over 100% of the tax liability in advance.
- Check your income from the previous financial year and take account of any changes in your business activities, investments or turnover. Be sure to consult your accountant or visit the official government website (FR/NL).
- Try as much as possible – especially in the case of corporation tax – to limit your pre-payments to the amount needed to avoid the surcharge. If you make an excessively high pre-payment, you’re effectively providing the state with an interest-free loan.
- If you realise towards the end of the financial year that you have made more profit than anticipated, you can still make an extra pre-payment up to the twentieth day of the final month of the financial year.
- Also consider the special credit formula offered by the bank to cover your tax pre-payments. The interest on loans of this kind is tax-deductible as a business expense, although the main reason for choosing a solution like this is the improved cashflow management it provides.
Which account should payments be made to?
- For companies that do not close their balance sheet on 31/12: the advance payments for the ongoing 2019 tax period (2018 revenues) must be made to the existing account number: BE20 6792 0023 3056 (BIC: PCHQ BEBB).
- For companies that close their balance sheet on 31/12, the advance payments from the 1st quarter of the 2020 tax period (2019 revenues) must be made to a new account number:
BE61 6792 0022 9117.
For payments to the new account number, it is necessary to use a structured message based on the company number (CBE – the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises).
Do companies really want a more sustainable world?
Yes, the success of our Sustainable Business Ateliers is good proof of that. Most companies are aware of their social responsibility, but some are in need of information. To help them on their way, BNP Paribas Fortis organises regular regional Sustainable Business Workshops. Last year, our bank organised two pilot sessions in Liège and Limburg and more recently it was the turn of Namur, Gits (in West Flanders) and Ghent. Other Belgian cities will be announced soon.
During the Sustainable Business Workshops the invited clients are inspired by the experts from our Sustainable Business Competence Centre, and by other clients who speak about the actions they have already taken with their business.
After the presentations, participants are divided into groups and share experiences led by a moderator.
How do clients rate them?
Feedback from the participants revealed that the focus on cooperation and networking opportunities are the greatest advantages of the Workshops. Those attending always include representatives of small, medium-sized and large businesses from a variety of sectors - a diversity which participants find highly enriching. After all, no single company can overcome all of the present challenges on its own. Companies will not only have to cooperate with one another, but also with the government, universities, startups, etc. to make progress.
According to the participants, BNP Paribas Fortis is also the only financial service provider that goes great lengths to support companies in the area of sustainable business, by analysing at which stage of the sustainable business path the companies are and by guiding them to use sustainability as an opportunity for their activities.
Do you want to participate in one of our Sustainable Business Workshops? Please contact your Relationship Manager for the practical details.
Not a client yet? And do you want to know more about the guidance we offer and the benefits of sustainability for your company? Discover what our Sustainable Business Competence Centre can do for you.
Solvay links the cost of credit to a reduction in greenhouse gases
Solvay has agreed new terms in an existing €2 billion revolving credit facility, linking the cost of credit to a reduction in greenhouse gases. Solvay concluded this positive incentive agreement with its syndicate of nine banks. BNP Paribas Fortis is acting as Sustainability Coordinator and agent bank to Solvay’s long-term banking partners.
Solvay announced in September 2018 a commitment to cut greenhouse gases from its own operations by 1 million tonnes by 2025 relative to 2017 levels. The Group intends to achieve this reduction by further improving energy efficiency, energy mix and by investing in clean technologies. “We seek to integrate sustainability into all key aspects of our business, including financing. Associating Solvay's ambitious greenhouse gas emissions target to the cost of credit is a logical step. The successful teaming up with our banks shows that the way towards more sustainability is a collective effort," said Jean-Pierre Clamadieu, CEO of Solvay.
“I am proud that Solvay has mandated BNP Paribas Fortis to introduce a Positive Incentive Loan mechanism that supports Solvay’s ambitions in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This innovative solution is a clear example of how we and the syndicated banks we represent aim to serve our clients in terms of value creation. Collaboration between banks and clients is key in driving the economy forward to a more sustainable future,” said Max Jadot, CEO of BNP Paribas Fortis.
BNP Paribas Fortis : 2018 annual results
CEO Max Jadot: “In spite of the lower pace of economic growth, low interest rates and tensions in international trade, our net profits of 1.9 billion in 2018 held up well. We continued to realise our mission to support the economy in a sustainable way by enabling our clients’ projects and safeguarding and developing their assets. (…) In a highly competitive and fast-changing environment, we are building the bank for the world of tomorrow. I would like to thank our customers for their trust and our colleagues for their engagement and effort in achieving our goals.”