Public body to be considered a VAT taxable person or not? New guidance released by Belgian VAT authorities

On 22 December 2017, the Belgian VAT authorities published circular letter 2017/C/91 which aims to provide additional guidance on the VAT status of public bodies when performing certain economic activities.

Instead of outlining general principles, the VAT authorities tackle 24 specific situations which can trigger VAT issues for municipalities & social service departments (OCMW / CPAS) and their respective suppliers and ‘customers’.

The situations include Q&A like:

Should a municipality be considered as a VAT taxable person when it:

    • puts personnel at the disposal of another public body?
    • performs immovable works for its residents (such as connecting a building to the sewerage network)?
    • provides parking spaces on a public road against payment of a retribution or when it provides such space on a parking lot not located on a public road?
    • performs garbage collection services or sells garbage bags to its residents? 

Should a social service department (OCMW / CPAS) be considered as a VAT taxable person when it:

  • operates the cafetaria of its assisted-living centre?
  • supplies meals to senior citizens or people in need against payment of a (reduced) price?

You can read the full version of the circular letter here (NL / FR).

Please reach out to the Indirect Tax team of Loyens & Loeff should you have any questions about this subject.