Anyone who has a savings account probably knows: the interest on it is exempt from withholding tax, as long as it remains below 990 euros per person this year. If the account is in the name of two married or legally cohabiting couples, there is an exemption of up to 1,980 euros per year (double exemption). Above those limits, which are almost never achieved due to the low interest rate, the bank must deduct 15 percent withholding tax.
In principle, this exemption does not only apply to Belgian accounts, but also to the interest that Belgians receive on foreign booklets. If at least similar criteria apply there as in Belgium. This means that the savings accounts must have the characteristics of a regulated savings account: a basic interest rate and a loyalty premium.
But in practice, the tax authorities almost never allow an exemption for foreign income, in the absence of evidence that the accounts from across the border meet the conditions.
The issue regularly leads to disputes between Belgian savers and the tax authorities, even to the courts. In a number of cases, the state has already bitten in the sand, such as in the courts of Bruges and in Antwerp.
The tax authorities appealed in both cases. For the first time there is now a decision of a court of appeal on the matter. The Antwerp Court of Appeal decided at the beginning of this month to order the state to exempt withholding tax from two Dutch savings accounts with Belgians.