Fiscal Issues (5): VAT

Bart Van den Bossche writes:

For international lawyers arriving in Brussels today, the key issue in determining whether you have to register for VAT concerns the geographic location of your home Bar or Law Society.

If your home Bar is in the EU, then (as with local Belgian Bar lawyers) you do not have to register for VAT.

If your home Bar is outside the EU, then you will normally have to register for VAT.

The situation seems relatively settled now (compared to the recent situation described below),but if you want to be 100% certain then check directly (or request your accountant to do so) with the VAT authority when you establish your self-employed activity.

Background information: a past change

As a self-employed,"foreign" Bar lawyer in Brussels, recent events concerning VAT registration may not be so relevant for you. But here is some brief background information in case you want to know more.
Until a few years ago, lawyers whose "home" Bar was a Belgian one did not have to register for VAT and all foreign Bar lawyers did have to register.

But the VAT positon of one group of foreign Bar lawyers - those from other EU Bars- changed from having to register to not having to register. The manner of the change caused some uncertainty at the time as first the change happened quickly (almost overnight) and then the revised VAT registration rules were applied in a not always consistent way.

The effect of this past change will not be an issue for you as a newcomer.

Next article: (6) Business Costs

Author: Bart Van den Bossche©
First published: 12 November 2005
Last updated: 19 August 2006