Belgium’s tax department has already issued 3,600 authorisations for the auditing of taxpayers’ bank accounts since banking secrecy was relaxed in Belgium in 2001, L’Echo and De Tijd reported on Wednesday.
Thanks to measures adopted under the Leterme II caretaker government it is now easier to access the bank accounts of a taxpayer suspected of fraud. Since 2011, Belgium’s Inspection spéciale des impôts (ISI) has already done this 3,613 times. In 1,977 cases this had to do with income tax, while the 1636 remaining cases were related to Value-added tax (VAT)
Last year alone, ISI studied 1661 cases, an online total in line with the preceding years’(1,352 cases in 2017). However, the result obtained by the ISI last year was far lower than that of the previous year. The investigators imposed fines and additional sanctions to the sum of 1.01 billion euros, as opposed to over 2.12 billion in 2017 and 1.72 billion in 2016. Since 2015, when the penalties came up to 969 million euros, the result has never been so low.
Since 2011, for such studies to be allowed, inspectors only need to have one or more pieces of evidence pointing to tax evasion or to someone evidently living above his official means.
The ISI had used this type of argument, for example, at the end of 2011 to be able to examine the accounts of former European Commissioner Karel De Gucht (Open Vld).