A rush to buy property in Flanders at the end of 2019 led to a bonus for the public finances of €305 million, De Tijd reports. The government ended the year with a budget surplus of €275 million as a result.
The sudden growth in property purchases came about as a result of the abolition of the Flemish woonbonus – a premium paid for residential property purchases – at the end of 2019.
In order not to miss out, many people rushed into buying property before the deadline. In October alone, notaries reported 8,000 more sales contracts than usual – an increase of 43%.
The result for the government was an explosion in the sums taken in on registration rights, the tax paid on every property transaction. That brought in €305 million more in 2019 than had been raised in 2018.
“Tax income from purchases rose from €2.45 billion to €2.72 billion,” said Flemish budget minister Matthias Diependaele (N-VA). “Income from mortgages went up from €163 million to €204 million. It’s not all from new purchases, but the trend is clear.”
The overall budget picture was not quite as rosy as those figures suggest, Diependaele said. Income from bequests and inheritances was down, so in the end the net extra income amount to €175 million.
While the government had been projecting a budget surplus of €152 million for the year, the final figure rose to €275 million.
The extra will go towards paying down the government debt, Diependaele said.
“The budgetary rules sadly don’t allow us to carry that money over into 2020. The 2019 budget is in balance. On a budget of €45 billion the excess is 0.3%. I think I can allow myself to say we’ve done some serious budget work.”
Diependaele took over as budget minister in October 2019 from Lydia Peeters (Open VLD), who moved over to mobility and public works.