Public expenditure: What are your taxes used for in Belgium?

Public expenditure: What are your taxes used for in Belgium?
Credit: Belga / Hatim Kaghat

June is the month of tax declaration in Belgium, with 30 June being the deadline. In total, employees, freelancers and companies pay €270 billion in taxes, according to the most recent figures from 2019.

But what are your taxes actually used for?

Pensions

The largest amount of tax money goes to pensions, amounting to €54 billion. For every €100 of taxes you pay, €20.10 go towards funding pensions. Pensions are therefore a major political and budgetary issue for all governments at the federal level.

The cost of pensions will only continue to increase further in the long term, according to the forecasts of the study committee on ageing.

Healthcare and social protection

The second-largest expense is healthcare, which makes up for almost 15% of our taxes.

In combination with unemployment and social exclusion, invalidity and illness, families and children, and pensions, social protection makes up more than 52% of the total amount of taxes.

'Free' education

Another public service funded by tax money is education: access is free (and compulsory) up until a certain age or level of education. The total amount of tax money spent on education is €30 billion.

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With €11 in €100 of taxes going to education, it is the third-largest item of expenditure in tax. That is more than for instance “economic policy,” which includes support for business, which only receives 8% or €8 in €100 of your taxes.

The State

The State itself is also, of course, funded through taxes. The management of public administrations represents 6,9% of your taxes. The European average (in 2019) is slightly lower, at 5,8%, with the increase in Belgium partly explained by its institutional and regional complexity.

Debt, culture and defence

Other public expenditure goes towards Belgium’s national debt, public order and safety, the environment and culture.

3,6% of our taxes went to the national debt in 2020, while 3% was spent on public order and safety.

Only 2,5% was spent on the environment. Leisure, culture and religious practice are worth as much as around €2 for every €100 in taxes.

The smallest public expense is defence, equivalent to 1,5% of taxes.


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