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    Belgium claws back €87 million from tax evaders

    © Belga

    Tax evaders in Belgium stashed away more than a combined €87 million in foreign accounts they failed to declare to tax authorities last year.

    New figures released by the federal public finance services (FPS Finances) show that tax authorities last year located thousands of undeclared foreign accounts owned by Belgian residents.

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    According to De Tijd, this also concerned accounts owned by Belgians who declared a lesser income than what they actually held.

    Belgian tax authorities found irregularities in three-quarters of the 11,223 accounts they checked on in 2019, leading them to claw back €84.7 million in undeclared revenue.

    Tax evasion checks only began in the spring of 2019, following the entry into force of the EU’s Anti Tax Avoidance Directive in January 2019.

    The directive saw countries like Switzerland and other EU countries ramp up the exchange of their residents’ and account holders’ information.

    The data exchange allows federal tax authorities to detect discrepancies between what residents declare in Belgium and what they own abroad, which can lead to the opening of an investigation.

    Following the EU directive’s entry into force, the number of Belgian residents who declared owning assets abroad skyrocketed, nearly doubling in the space of a single year.

    In 2018, 173,048 taxpayers in Belgium declared owning assets abroad, a figure which rose to 321,175 in 2019, according to the figures obtained by De Tijd. By contrast, the declared earnings in foreign accounts rose only from €174 billion in 2018 to €186 billion in 2019.

    In 2020, Belgian tax authorities said they plan to carry out 11,350 checks on foreign assets owned by taxpayers in Belgium.

    Gabriela Galindo
    The Brussels Times