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Donations to disaster relief funds now tax-deductible

© Nicolas Maeterlinck/Belga

Donations made to regional funds to aid the victims of recent flooding disasters can now claim 45% tax relief, federal finance minister Vincent Van Peteghem (CD&V) has announced.

The aim is to encourage donations from the public – the lower limit for donations is €40 – as well as businesses. Work on recovery from the worst of the flooding is only just beginning, now that the priority of searching for victims is virtually over.

People remain homeless, others saw part of their homes ruined by water damage, it remains unclear whether children in affected areas will even be able to return to school in September.

The new order adds regional funds to the realm of tax-deductible donations, which previously covered recognised institutions like the Red Cross. Requests for donations from charitable institutions always refer to the issue of tax-deductibility (which requires a receipt from the institution concerned). Without such a notice, one should not assume the donation can be deducted.

Two other conditions apply: the flood damage has to be recognised officially as a disaster. For most (but not all) of the regions involved in water damage over recent weekends that would appear to be a formality.

Secondly, only some kinds of damage can be the subject of a claim on a regional disaster fund. So the money donated will not go to all victims equally.

For example, the minimum claim is €500, and concerning damage that is not covered by home insurance. In most cases, the first port of call for claims will be the private insurer.

Flanders has somewhat different rules for regional relief than Wallonia.

Van Peteghem has also made it more attractive to businesses to donate to the funds, by increasing the amount to which tax deductions apply from €500,000 to €2.5 million, and that for the rest of the year.

Finally, home owner who who have to repair or partially rebuild their homes as a result of the flooding will be able to benefit from the lower 6% VAT rate on spending, regardless of the age of the property.