Tax Insights October 2021 - Lump sum allowances for job-related travel within Belgium as from 1 October 2021

The costs made by an employee who travels within Belgium for professional purposes, can - with due respect of the conditions - be compensated by the employer on a lump sum basis. The lump sums that the public servants of the Belgian State are receiving for this, also serve as norm for the private sector and are considered as costs proper to the employer, in other words a non taxable advantage for the employee and a deductible professional cost for the employer.

1.    CURRENT AMOUNTS

As from 1 October 2021, the amounts will be modified. The new amounts can be used in the private sector as a "serious norm".

1.1.    Meal allowance

A lump sum cost reimbursement can be allocated for professional travel of at least 6 hours. This amounts to 17,75 euro per day.

For employees who have a job which, by its nature, involves regular travel, it is also possible to make use of a monthly lump sum meal allowance, equal to a number of times the amount of the per diem, with an absolute maximum of 16 times (for part-time workers pro rata employment rate). In this case, the condition of minimum duration does not apply and the lump sum is linked to the job and not to the number of business trips. The tax authorities can however base themselves on the business trips made in the previous year in order to assess whether the monthly lump sum granted is in line with reality.

Additional condition for both is however that the meal costs are not being reimbursed in another way by the employer or by a third party (for example participation in a seminar or meeting where the meal is included) or no advantage of the same kind is being benefited from (for example use of a company restaurant).

1.2.    Compensation accommodation expenses (lodging)

A lump sum allowance can be allocated if the lodging has brought about costs for the employee. This amounts to 133,18 euro per night.

2.    WHAT DOES NOT CHANGE?

Higher lump sums stay non-taxable on condition that the employer delivers proof that the allowance is not only destined to cover costs that are proper to him, but that it is also actually spent on such costs. Also when the imposed minimum duration of the job-related travel is not met, the allowance is taxable. 

The NSSO still maintains its separate lump sums for reimbursement of costs proper to the employer. The amounts of 7 euro per day and 35 euro per night (and also 10 euro per day) are excluded from the wage definition for them for certain categories of employees, on condition that the lump sum used can be justified. If the actual costs are higher than the lump sum, the employer must demonstrate the reality of the costs for the totality of the costs related to that entry.

Of course, the same cost can still not be reimbursed on the basis of actual evidence, if a lump sum allowance has already been attributed for it. Also, the employer's intervention in the meal voucher must still be deducted from the meal allowance if the employee also receives a mail voucher for this day outside the office.

If you would like to receive additional information on this matter, don’t hesitate to contact our RSM Belgium | Tax team ([email protected]).

RSM Belgium | Tax

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