Home work allowance, working from home pay, Belgium pay tax

New guidelines for home work allowances

Marc Verbeek
25/05/2021
Home work allowance, working from home pay, Belgium pay tax

Due to the corona pandemic, many employees now work from home in a more "structural" way and this trend is likely to continue post-corona. That is why the administration has issued new guidelines in its Circular 2021/C/20 on the allowances that can be granted tax-free to employees in the context of working from home.

Know that also the social security authorities use the same amounts.

For who? 

The new rules apply to employees and civil servants, NOT company directors. Also employees who fall under special regimes, eg foreign executives benefitting from the special tax regime for expatriates, employees who work with a salary split,…. are excluded.
For the latter categories, allowances can be granted on the basis of justifying documents or on the basis of serious and consistent standards for which a prior decision can be obtained from the Service for Anticipated Decisions.  

What is meant by home work?

Home work is defined as "any form of organization and / or performance of the work in which activities that could also be performed on the work floor of the employer are carried out on a regular basis outside that work floor". The work floor also includes the activities that are normally carried out at the customer or at another location (eg in a satellite office of the employer). Outside the workplace then means in the private premises of the employee.

Furthermore, this homework must be structural and regular. This means that the equivalent of one working day per week (eg one full working day per week, two half working days per week, several days of a few hours performed during normal working hours) is worked from home. This is then assessed on a monthly basis. Please note: homework must be performed during normal working hours, so not in the evenings or during the weekend.

Non-structural homeworkers are, for example, employees who only work from home for a few hours a month, who perform their normal working hours on the work floor or elsewhere but then, for example, still do administration at home in the evening or further those who are absent for a full month, for example due to illness , vacation, maternity leave, technical unemployment, ...

Which allowances?

On the one hand, it concerns the reimbursement of the following costs borne by the employee:

  • Office costs
  • Costs of office furniture / IT equipment
  • Costs for professional use of a private internet connection and subscription
  • Costs for professional use of a private computer
  • Costs for professional use of a private second screen, printer / scanner without a private computer.

On the other hand, it concerns the putting at the disposal of the employee by the employer  of office furniture / IT equipment.

Reimbursement of costs

The lump sum office allowance covers all office costs and amounts to EUR 129,48 per month. For the months of April, May and June 2021, this amount is increased to EUR 144,31 per month. In the case of part-time work, these amounts do not have to be reduced proportionally as long as the above conditions regarding structural work from home are met (one working day per week on a monthly basis).

This allowance covers all costs associated with the office, such as the use of an office space at the employee’s home, printer and computer materials such as paper, USB stick, mouse pad, ink (not the PC and printer itself), office supplies such as folders, course blocks, ball pens. ,…, utilities, maintenance, insurance, property tax and coffee, water, refreshments.

Costs of office furniture / IT equipment

In addition, the reimbursement of, among other things, an office chair, table or cupboard and / or lamp, second screen, printer / scanner, keyboard, headphones,…. Is possible if the employer also makes this type of material available on the work floor.

However, reimbursement is only possible on the basis of supporting documents and insofar as the investments by the employee are strictly necessary to carry out the professional activity at home in a normal manner.

Reimbursement is possible in one time or in instalments according to the normal useful life of the investment. The following normal useful life is assumed:

  • Office chair, table or cupboard: 10 years
  • Desk lamp: 5 years
  • Second screen / printer / scanner / other peripherals: 3 years

In case of a one-time reimbursement, the residual value of the investment will be taxed as a taxable benefit in the name of the employee if he leaves the employer before the end of the investment's useful life and he does not need to repay the residual value to the employer. Taxation as benefit in kind also applies to investments that exceed professional needs.

Costs for professional use of a private internet connection and subscription

A lump sum allowance of EUR 20,00 per month can be granted.   

Costs for professional use of a private computer  

A lump sum allowance of EUR 20,00 per month can be granted..   

Costs for professional use of a private second screen, printer / scanner without a private computer

For a private second screen, printer or scanner, a fee of EUR 5,00 per month per item can be awarded for a maximum of 3 years, with an absolute maximum of EUR 10,00 per month.   

Putting at the disposal of material by the employer

The lump sum allowance can be combined with the putting at the disposal by the employer of office furniture or IT equipment, insofar as he also makes this available in the workplace under normal circumstances. If the employee is allowed to keep the equipment after termination of the home work or employment contract, the fair value does constitute a taxable benefit in kind.

If the putting at the disposal relates to a PC, laptop, internet connection, mobile telephone and fixed or mobile telephone subscription that are also used privately, a fixed benefit in kind will be charged for this.

Additional reporting obligations? 

As from the income year 2022, in addition to the usual statements regarding costs proper to the employer, the amount of the allowances must also be included on the forms 281.10 of the employees.

Entry into force 

This new regulation has entered into force on March 1, 2021, but the administration will already take it into account for situations of home work as from January 1, 2021. 

Summarised 

In summary, it can be stated that the lump sum allowances can be paid together with the reimbursement or putting at the disposal of office equipment as long as they do not cover the same costs.