Antwerp criminal court rejected Friday the request put forth by the Special Taxation Inspectorate (ISI) that wanted to have a glimpse at all foreign credit card payments in Belgium, and had therefore assigned before justice the three largest payment operators of the country in order to force them to open millions of payment data. This request was judged in the end as unfounded. Thanks to this data from companies such as Worldline, Alpha Card Merchant Services and Ingenico Financial Solutions, ISI wants to determine which Belgians use their black money coming from fiscal paradises such as Luxembourg, Switzerland or Monaco, to make purchases in Belgium. The transaction data could constitute an important weapon in the battle against tax evasion.
On 19 January 2017, in a request for information, Tax authorities had asked the payment operators to provide them with all data from all foreign payment cards that had been used in Belgium in 2015 and 2016. The companies had not responded to this request, which led to an assignation before a court of justice.
The Court deemed that such a request for information did not yet authorize ISI to collect data in an almost unlimited way. There has to be some tax relevance behind the procedure, and there is the rub. Indeed, among the millions of data that the Tax authorities wished to obtain, only a very limited part would concern Belgian taxpayers. Tourists and diplomats also pay with their foreign cards when they are in the country.
The Court also believes that legislation on the protection of private rights does not allow an investigation to be made on such a large scale.
The ISI request was thus declared unfounded. An appeal can still be interjected against this decision.