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Belgium has published the Law of 3 July 2018 on amending the tax system for maritime transport (tonnage tax regime). The main changes include:

  • An expansion of the tonnage tax regime to all eligible vessels sailing under an EEA country flag that are used for the transport of cargo or passengers;
  • Qualifying activities for the purpose of the regime are clarified to include:
    • Activities that are essential to the operation of a vessel for the transport of goods or persons; and
    • Ancillary activities related to the operation of a vessel for the transport of goods or persons, provided that the profits from these activities do not exceed 50% of the total revenue from the operation of the vessel to which they are linked and, if ancillary activities relate to on-shore services which form an integral part of the transport, such services must be purchased by the taxpayer under market conditions (at arm's length);
  • At least 51% of the on-shore or on-board positions must be carried out by EEA nationals;
  • Capital gains on a vessel benefiting from the tonnage tax regime must be determined and reported with the tax declaration from the time it is acquired until the time it enters under the regime, and such gain will be subject to tax if:
    • The vessel is disposed of within 24 months after it is registered under the tonnage tax regime, unless the vessel has been transferred to a related company and continues to operate under the regime for the full 24-month period;
    • There is a sustained reduction of at least 30% in the net tonnage of the fleet for longer than two tax periods; or
    • There is a total or partial cessation of activities of the undertaking within nine tax periods after a company enters the regime;
  • The investment allowance for seagoing vessels (30%) may not be claimed while the tonnage tax regime applies but may be carried forward until the time the regime no longer applies, and any unused allowance existing at the time the regime is first applied may be used while the regime is applied.

The amendments generally apply from 1 January 2018 (the 2019 assessment year).