What are the criteria to be considered as a "Non-Resident in Belgium"?

Because we regularly get questions on how to obtain the status of "Non-Resident in Belgium" and there is often a wrong perception with respect hereto, we will explain in short the criteria which have to be met to be considered as a 'Non-Resident'.

If you are registered in the Belgian population register, first you have to cancel your registration. The registration in the population register is the first legal presumption of residency. Even if you are removed from the register, the tax authorities can still consider you as a resident, based on your residence for tax purposes.

If you are removed from the Belgian population register and registered abroad, but still established in Belgium with your family, as a spouse or legal cohabiting partner, the tax authorities may still consider you as a Belgian tax resident, based on your residence for tax purposes, because this is the second legal criteria.

The tax residence is determined based on factual criteria. If you want to dispute your Belgian tax residence, you can rebut the legal presumption by presenting evidence that your real residence or the primary location of your assets is not in Belgium. To rebut this presumption, you can use the following criteria:

1° The seat of wealth: it is the place where you manage your assets. This place does not necessarily correspond to the location of your assets. For example: you hold shares in a foreign company, your immovable property is situated abroad, you have foreign loans, a foreign bank account, ...

2° The residence: the residence is determined by the place where you usually live and work. You can prove your residence abroad by: presenting a copy of the registration in the population register abroad, the cancellation of your tenancy agreement in Belgium, a tenancy agreement or property agreement abroad, you let your house in Belgium, invoices of utilities companies, car tax paid abroad, your correspondence is sent to an address abroad, enrolment certificate in a school abroad, membership of a professional organization abroad, ...

Contrary to the primary location of your assets, your address is much more difficult to determine.

3° If none of the above-mentioned criteria gives a definite answer, your nationality will be decisive. If you have two nationalities, the countries will decide by mutual consent.

The notion "tax residence" can have far-reaching consequences: the most disadvantageous is when you are subject to double taxation: the two countries can impose taxes on the same person (dual residence).

If the principle of dual residence applies to you, the Belgian government can impose taxes on your Belgian income as well as on your worldwide income. Whether or not the foreign government also imposes taxes on your worldwide income, depends on their internal legislation.

The preceding shows the complexity of the determination of residence. It is impossible to include all details in this newsletter. If you consider becoming a non-resident, we advise you to contact Panis. We can give you specific advice for your personal situation.