The impact of the Brexit on the business of companies is still uncertain. That is why the FPS Economy introduces an information portal, including a ‘Brexit Impact Scan’. This scan helps to map out the possible consequences of the Brexit on the activities of an enterprise.
Third quarter 2018 results BNP Paribas
Jean-Laurent Bonnafé, Chief Executive Officer BNP Paribas: “BNP Paribas delivered this quarter a good level of income, at 2.1 billion euros. The Group’s business continues to grow in a contrasted context of economic growth in Europe. Despite a still unfavourable market context in Europe, the revenues of the operating divisions increase slightly, driven by the specialised businesses.”
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Tax pre-payments even more important as of 2018
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 in future. 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...
- made a pre-payment before 10/04/2018 (first quarter), receives a 9% reduction
- made a pre-payment before 10/07/2018 (second quarter), receives a 7.5% reduction
- made a pre-payment before 10/10/2018 (third quarter), receives a 6% reduction
- makes a pre-payment before 20/12/2018 (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 2019 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.
More info L’Echo 14/08/2018 or De Tijd 14/08/2018)
First Half Year Results 2018 BNP Paribas Fortis
Max Jadot, CEO BNP Paribas Fortis NV: "With a net result of EUR 934 million, BNP Paribas Fortis achieved a good performance in first half 2018. Against a background of an increasingly volatile international environment and despite the pressure of the persistently low interest rates, we succeeded in maintaining our revenues and pursued our role to finance both individual and corporate customers."
In a changing world, sustainable lending is reshaping the financial landscape
As the UN has recognised, it will not be possible to build a greener future unless the private sector and the world of finance play their part.
What options are available to companies that want to combine financing with sustainable development?
Two options are currently available: the first is the 'green bond', by the end of 2017 there were USD 895 billion green bonds in circulation, and the second option are the ‘sustainability-linked’ loans or ‘positive impact’ loans, for companies that may be reluctant to issue securities or do not have specific projects to finance.
Originally a well-kept secret, this method of financing is growing fast.
Cecile Moitry, Director of Sustainable Finance and Investment at BNP Paribas Corporate and Institutional Banking, says: "The total volume of EUR 4.5 billion of syndicated loans in 2017 was surpassed by the middle of February this year."
In short, sustainability-linked loans are put together as standard loan agreements in terms of their pricing and risk, but they are then matched with green targets and assessed for their achievement of these by a third party. What happens when the target is reached? The company receives a discount. If they miss their target, they have to pay a ‘penalty’.
In October last year, the mail service bpost was the first to sign up to one of these loans and was soon joined by others: Danone recently incorporated ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance – editor's note) criteria when refinancing a EUR 2 billion credit facility.
Some want to take the concept even further
Why should the green risk not be assessed in the same way as operational risk, for example? Regulators are playing their part, encouraging companies to be more transparent in their sustainability strategies. Companies raising finance in this way and which are therefore involved in this approach should be subject to less stringent risk acceptance criteria.
But is this a good way of encouraging companies in their energy transition efforts? There are other levers that can be used. And banks can make a difference through their commitment, and by helping their customers develop new business models.