Belgium's Federal Government has prepared a second action plan to tackle major international fraud, announced Finance Minister Vincent Van Peteghem. The plan was approved during the budget review in early April.
Cases such as the Panama Papers have shown that there are many complex fraud constructions. In his second action plan against fiscal and social fraud, Van Peteghem outlined 23 measures.
"Those who opt for fraud or tax evasion are putting an unjustly high burden on the working middle class. I cannot accept that," he said. "On about €71 billion of black money per year, not a cent of tax is paid. That is lost revenue that we could use in times of crisis to support our families who pay their taxes honestly."
Earlier, Van Peteghem already announced that the Special Tax Inspectorate was hiring 40 extra investigators specialised in international taxation.
- More than 9,000 cases of social fraud in Belgium in 2021
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- Fight against social fraud delivered €342 million in 2021
In the context of the fight against black money, digital payment will be possible everywhere from 1 July. The registered cash register system, which already exists in the hospitality industry to make sure all payments are registered, will be extended to other sectors as well.
Still, more is needed to tackle major international fraud – which is why Van Peteghem has a second action plan ready that should give the tax authorities more leeway:
- to minimise the risk of time-barring complex fraud cases, the investigation period for complex declarations or international constructions will be extended from seven to ten years,
- companies that obstruct a fraud investigation by making access to computer files or buildings difficult will risk a penalty payment, which can be imposed by a judge,
- the tax authorities will be able to seize the foreign assets of fraudsters,
- money laundering and fraud through real estate companies will be curbed.
"At the end of this legislature, fraudsters must be very aware that what they are doing is risky," said Van Peteghem. "The battle we are waging against fraud is the battle of the whole of society."
Every euro that we can recover from fraudsters also means a euro less in taxes, he stressed. "Tackling fraud is only fair to all those people who pay their taxes honestly and on time."