European court brings VAT relief to osteopaths and chiropractors
Share article:
Share article:

European court brings VAT relief to osteopaths and chiropractors

A chiropractor at work © Creative Commons/James Kelly

Belgium’s osteopaths and chiropractors should be exempt from charging clients VAT, placing them on equal terms with medical and other paramedical professionals, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg has ruled.

Until now, osteopaths and chiropractors have not been considered medical or paramedical disciplines, as opposed for example to physiotherapists, who like doctors and dentists are exempt from charging VAT.

The associations representing the two sectors brought a case against the Belgian government before the country’s Constitutional Court, which in turn sent a question to Luxembourg requesting an opinion on the European legal situation in the matter.

The issue is of importance to the sector not only because it recognises their status as paramedical professionals, but also because it reduced the cost to patients, and with many consultations not being reimbursed, the price difference could be important in turning to the practitioners, usually for complaints of the muscular-skeletal system.

The ECJ took the side of the complainant, and ruled that the exemption from VAT did not only apply to paramedical professions as defined by the member state. While the member state may make rules to determine who may practice such a profession, it is a breach of the principle of fiscal neutrality for two practitioners who perform a similar function – an osteopath and a physiotherapist, for example – to be subject to different tax regimes.

The Belgian government was ordered to amend its law on this matter. In the meantime, the two professions must be exonerated from VAT immediately. The provisional continuation of VAT while awaiting a change to the law was not acceptable, the Court said.

Procedurally, it will now be the job of the Constitutional Court to make that happen as soon as possible, no matter how long it takes for amended legislation to be agreed by parliament.

The ECJ had also to respond to a question in a case brought by the industry association of plastic surgeons, who complained that they were subject to paying a higher rate of VAT for equipment and medication for cosmetic surgery than surgeons performing medical operations. In that case, the ECJ declined to overturn the current rules differentiating the two.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times

Latest news

Why Belgium is regulating sex work
After decades of confusing rules and hypocritical policy, Belgium is finally regulating sex work by removing prostitution from the criminal law. ...
Up to 100 km/h winds expected across Belgium on Wednesday night
Gusts of up to 100 km/h are expected across Belgium on Wednesday night, according to the Royal Meteorological Institute (RMI), which has issued a ...
Cycling traffic officially added to VRT’s traffic bulletin
Usually a list of updates for drivers on busy roads, traffic bulletins will now include the latest travel news for cyclists in Belgium, VRT announced ...
MEPs call for European strategy to protect workers from asbestos
Members of the European Parliament are calling on the Commission to create a strategy for removing all abestos from buildings in order to reduce the ...
Mandatory vaccine for carers: employers call for sanctions
In a notice submitted by the National Council for Work (CNT), employers have called for heavy penalties for healthcare workers who refuse to receive ...
Police pension protest blocks several Brussels crossroads
On Wednesday, around 350 police officers expressed their dissatisfaction about the unclear pension scheme, low salaries and politicised police unions ...
Belgium in Brief: A Consultative Committee Sequel
Sequels often have a lot to live up to and when it comes to movie franchises, it gets difficult to keep up the hype once you get towards the final ...
25 years ago today: 300,000 people marched in white against child abuse
On this day 25 years ago, over 300,000 people marched in Brussels to demand a more effective justice system and to support the families of Julie, ...
Windy weather forecast should lower gas prices
After weeks of relatively calm conditions, a return to windy weather should lower Europe's soaring energy prices. Wind turbines in the UK and Germany ...
EC calls on candidate countries to focus on fundamental reforms before they can join the EU
The European Commission adopted yesterday its 2021 Enlargement Package, providing a detailed assessment of the state of play and the progress made by ...
Cigarette-eating robot patrols Ghent streets to fight littering
A litter fighting (and eating) robot will be patrolling the streets of Ghent in the coming weeks in an effort to raise awareness of the growing ...
Display of child’s room in Brussels raises awareness of foster families
An exhibit that features a fictitious child’s bedroom has been on display since Tuesday at the Place d'Armes in Namur, with the support of the ...