From January, easier for taxman to snoop on bank accounts

From January, easier for taxman to snoop on bank accounts
The Constitutional Court in Brussels. © G. Lanting for Wikimedia

The tax authorities will find it easier to investigate banks for suspected complicity in tax fraud from next month, according to a new law that in fact came into force at the end of 2020 but has not yet been applied.

Until now, it was necessary for the financial authorities to launch a legal investigation into any suspicion of irregularities in the taxation of earning or other income, with all of the evidentiary hurdles that implies.

From the new year, however, it will be enough for the new law to force any bank or financial institution operating in Belgium to deliver all details on accounts held twice a year, to allow the Central Point of Contact for accounts and financial contracts (CPC) to investigate any suspicion of tax irregularities, on the basis of simply a demonstrable suspicion.

The information declared under the new CPC includes not only account balances, but also loans based on the account, as well as life assurance contracts held by account-holders. The details will be delivered twice a year by the CPC, to make any investigation possible without first passing through the legal hurdles required previously.

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Technically, the law has been in place since last year, but it is only from the end of January that the details have to be delivered by banks for the first time, covering the periods ending in December 2020, June 2021 and 31 December this week.

Insurance companies, on the other hand, have until 31 March to reveal the contracts they have concluded with clients to the CPC.

In the meantime, the private organisation Ministry of Privacy, which militates for the privacy of financial information, is expected to find out in the course of 2022 what the Constitutional Court in Brussels (photo) thinks of its case against the new rules, brought in June of this year. According to the group, the new rules were introduced without adequate scrutiny, with the result that the rules on banking secrecy have now been undermined.

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