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INTERNATIONAL CHARITIES AND NON-PROFIT COMPANIES

March 2009 - Corporate & Commercial. Legal Developments by Cruyplants Eloy Wagemans & Partners .

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The importance of Brussels as the location of the headquarters of many international organizations, including most notably the EU and NATO, has meant that many charitable and nonprofit organizations have set-up here. The activities carried out include political and other lobbying, grant and subsidy applications and aid and contract work.

Belgian law provides an ideal vehicle for the structuring and organization of these activities in the shape of the international ASBL (IASBL). This is a variation of the non-profit company that exists under Belgian law (the association sans but lucrative or ASBL) but which is specifically conceived for organizations that are active on the international stage and which have members from around Europe, or indeed from around the world.

The IASBL has all the advantages of the ASBL, including the ability to contract in its own name and for its own account as well as limited liability for its members. It also shares the favourable tax status of the ASBL, meaning that no company income tax is due and that taxation on investment income is generally speaking limited to tax withheld at source and does not give rise to any additional taxation in the hands of the ASBL or the IASBL.

The IASBL differs from the ASBL in that it must be incorporated by notarial deed and in that, in order to qualify as a person at law, it must be recognized by the Belgian Government. However, provided the IASBL has a genuine not for profit character and is not designed to generate profit for its members, the approval process is not problematic and takes no more than 6 to 8 weeks.

IASBL have proved a popular vehicle for international charities. They are also used by international scientific organizations and are a commonly used in order to structure international federations that represent the general interests of a particular industry on a European or world wide basis. The IASBL has also been used by some international sporting federations.

Charles Price

charles.price@cew-law.be

www.cew-law.be