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Belgium Enacts Corporate Tax Reform Law, Argentina Targets 10% Cut

…..firms to pay lesser tax

The Belgian Government has published the new corporate income tax reform law, which, among other measures, provides for a corporate tax cut, in the Official Gazette following parliament’s approval of the legislation last month.

The tax reform law includes measures included in last summer’s coalition agreement and was voted through by parliament last December 22, before being published in the Official Gazette on December 29, with most changes applying from 2018.

According to a news report by Tax-News.com, under the reforms, corporate tax, currently 33.99 percent including the solidarity contribution, is lowered to 29 percent in 2018 (29.58 percent including solidarity contribution), and will be cut to 25 percent in 2020.

In addition, the solidarity contribution is being phased out, falling from three percent to two percent for 2018, and to zero percent from 2020.

“The agreement also includes cuts to corporate tax for SMEs, which may qualify for a reduced 20 percent income tax rate on the first EUR100,000 (USD120,000) of income from 2018, instead of 25 percent tax under current rules. However, SMEs would have to meet certain requirements in order to qualify for the reduced rate. These include that at least two of the following conditions are met: a maximum turnover of EUR9m; a maximum balance sheet total of EUR4.5m; and no more than 50 workers employed.

“Qualifying SMEs can also benefit from a higher investment deduction of 20 percent (previously eight percent) which is applicable for investments made in 2018 and 2019.

“The corporate tax rate reductions are to be offset by limitations to the basket of deductions that companies can claim against income, including the deduction of carried forward losses, the notional interest deduction, the carried forward dividends received deduction, and the carried forward income innovation deduction. As a result, these deductions will be restricted to 70 percent of the portion of income exceeding EUR1m”, the report added.

Similarly, the proposals apply restrictions to the notional interest deduction (NID) regime, under which companies are permitted to deduct a fictional, or notional, rate of interest based on their adjusted equity, at a level equal to the average rate of 10-year government bonds.

Under these changes, the NID will be available only in respect of increases in company equity rather than total equity.

The tax reforms also include Belgium’s commitment to transpose the European Union anti-avoidance directives into Belgian law.

However, the dividends-received deduction will be increased from 95 percent to 100 percent under the reforms, a move designed to ensure that Belgium remains an attractive holding company jurisdiction.

In a related development, Argentina has also unveiled plans to reduce its corporate tax rate by 10 percent by 2020.

The plans were confirmed in the 2018 Budget, which was signed off by the Senate on December 27, 2017, and enacted on December 29.

The bill provides for an immediate tax cut to 30 percent from 35 percent and for a further five percent cut from the fiscal year 2020.

However, while the changes are expected to improve the competitiveness and efficiency of Argentina’s corporate tax regime, the corporate tax rate reduction was coupled with an increase to tax on distributed profits. Dividend distributions will be subject to a seven percent tax rate, later rising to 13 percent for profits from January 1, 2020, negating for some corporations the benefits of the corporate tax cut.

Until now, generally, dividends paid to resident corporate shareholders have been exempt from withholding tax. A 35 percent withholding tax – termed an “equalization tax” – was imposed on dividend distributions to both residents and non-residents that exceed taxable profits. The Budget repealed this equalization tax from January 1, 2018.

The Budget also includes financial transaction tax proposals intended to stabilize the local currency, by levying a tax of 15 percent on investment in foreign currencies, a five percent tax on peso-denominated debt, and exempting from tax investment in peso-denominated government bonds. It also extended the so-called “cheque tax,” on credits and debits in current accounts.

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