An example of Belgian Kafkaism
Mar 29th, 2010

After I got fined for not declaring that I had nothing to declare, I now have to pay taxes on revenue I never earned. Feeling confused? Welcome to Belgium!

ceci-n-est-pas-une-pipe.jpgLet me try and explain… After I was made redundant because of the crisis a year ago I registered as a freelancer on a complementary basis, thinking boldly: what the hell, what if I were to become my own boss? That didn’t happen though as I found a new full-time job straight away. Having been too busy since then I never used my freelancer status, thus made €0.00 with it. Still I had to fill in VAT declarations. I did so but too late, which is why I got a fine. Fair enough, I should have declared in time that I had nothing to declare. Mea culpa… But isn’t there something a little surreal about fining someone for not having declared that they had nothing to declare? Or am I just not Belgian enough? Anyway, I’m an honest citizen so I paid my fine. I also kept on declaring that I had nothing to declare. That’s how cooperative I am. And then I received a letter from the Belgian tax authorities telling me that I had to pay tax on revenue I never earned. Hold on. I thought you actually had to earn revenue to get taxed on that revenue… or am I missing something?

What is the moral of the story? I am going to get rid of this freelancer status as it is just too much of a bother. It’s a shame as I will probably have freelancing opportunities in the future, which I will then decline because it just seems like too much of an administrative nightmare! When a year ago I was thinking of getting this freelancer status, some friends advised me to register in France or in the UK for it was more interesting tax-wise. But as a socialist, I don’t mind paying high taxes. Besides I thought it was just the right thing to do to register as a freelancer in the country I live. How very idealistic of mine…

PS: If you are a Belgian tax expert, please get in touch with me. Thank you!

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