Tax in Belgium

Linklaters

Henk Vanhulle heads up Linklaters' tax team, which assists international financial institutions and corporates with international and domestic tax planning. In addition, it is equally adept at handling tax litigation and advising on the tax aspects of M&A, capital markets and real estate transactions. Nicolas Lippens is very experienced in handling tax-related matters concerning investment vehicles, while Guido De Wit is well known for his strength in VAT matters. Managing associates Caroline Borgers and Wouter Verhoeye are also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Henk Vanhulle

Other key lawyers:

Nicolas Lippens; Guido De Wit; Caroline Borgers; Wouter Verhoeye

Loyens & Loeff

The 'pragmatic' Natalie Reypens leads Loyens & Loeff's tax team, which provides 'excellent advice' across the entire spectrum of international and domestic tax matters. The practice draws upon the capabilities of the firm's banking and finance, corporate, employment and real estate departments to assist with the tax aspects of transactional mandates and restructurings. Transfer pricing issues are a notable pillar of the practice, and contentious work also features in the group's workload. Clients include entities operating in the retail, banking, technology and life sciences sectors, among others. Notable individuals include Nicolas Bertrand, Marc Dhaene, Bert Gevers and senior associate Aldo Engels. Of counsel Christian Chéruy is experienced in tax litigation and international tax matters.

Practice head(s):

Natalie Reypens

Other key lawyers:

Christian Chéruy; Nicolas Bertrand; Marc Dhaene; Bert Gevers; Aldo Engels

Testimonials

Partner Natalie Reypens is good at solving conflicts‘.

Work highlights

  • Representing a prominent European textile manufacturer in contentious work pertaining to VAT and customs issues.
  • Advising a US biotech company on the tax aspects of a post-acquisition merger.
  • Advising a UK-based e-money institution on the VAT aspects of the transfer of its regulated activities to its recently incorporated Belgian company.

Tiberghien

At tax boutique Tiberghien, Koen Morbée heads up the team, whose expertise spans the full spectrum of tax law matters. On the private client side of the practice, Emilie Van Goidsenhoven is experienced in advising Belgian and foreign high-net-worth individuals on estate planning and direct tax issues. On the corporate side, Morbée assists with tax aspects of finance, corporate and real estate transactions. He also counts EU and international tax as core specialties. Other key names in the group are VAT and customs expert Stijn Vastmans and Claudine Bodeux. Ben Van Vlierden advises on corporate tax and tax litigation. Bernard Peeters is well known for his specialist knowledge of double tax treaties. Counsel Ivo Vande Velde is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Koen Morbée

Other key lawyers:

Bernard Peeters; Stijn Vastmans; Claudine Bodeux; Ben Van Vlierden; Emilie Van Goidsenhoven; Ivo Vande Velde

Allen & Overy LLP

Allen & Overy LLP's 'business-oriented' team garners praise for its 'thorough and in-depth tax analysis'. It advises clients on tax litigation and real estate tax, as well as the tax aspects of private equity, investment funds and finance transactions. Practice head Patrick Smet has 'outstanding knowledge of what's happening in the market. He is very reachable and solution-oriented'. Counsel Isabelle Panis is 'extremely knowledgeable' and provides 'immediate, hands-on and focused advice on complex matters'. Senior associate Sara Husain is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Patrick Smet

Other key lawyers:

Isabelle Panis; Sara Husain

Testimonials

They are pragmatic and give clear and engaged opinions‘.

Dedicated and not leaving any stone unturned in in-depth assessments. Straightforward advice, business oriented, hands-on‘.

Key clients

UCB

CVC Capital

Baker McKenzie CVBA/SCRL

Baker McKenzie CVBA/SCRL's Belgian tax practice provides 'a high-class service' and fields a 'very knowledgeable' team, which advises Belgian and multinational companies on a wide spectrum of tax matters. Areas of activity include transfer pricing issues, tax litigation, fund structurings and private equity-related work. Practice head Alain Huyghe is a highly regarded practitioner in the field. Other key names to note include Géry Bombeke, who has 'unique insights in tax and tax policy', and Luc Meeus, who 'has an excellent knowledge of tax law in Belgium'. At senior associate level, Thomas Gernay and Julie Permeke are recommended.

Practice head(s):

Alain Huyghe

Other key lawyers:

Géry Bombeke; Luc Meeus; Thomas Gernay; Julie Permeke

Testimonials

Géry Bombeke has vast knowledge and experience in dealing with the Belgian tax authorities‘.

They are very pragmatic and business-oriented, fighting the right battles‘.

Géry Bombeke is always available, and is very well connected with colleagues and the external tax world‘.

Key clients

Unisys

M80 Capital

Lubrizol

Korys Investments

KBC Securities NV

Work highlights

  • Assisted M80 Capital with the tax aspects of its multimillion-euro acquisition of Spantech International; this marks the client’s second investment in Belgium.
  • Advised Belgian infrastructure investment company TINC on all tax aspects of its €112.7 million capital increase.
  • Advised Korys Investments on the tax aspects of its €50m investment in venture capital fund OMX Ventures Europe FCPI.

Deloitte Legal

Deloitte Legal's practice is praised for its 'good and solid advisory work'. The team includes managing partner Danny Stas, who has expertise in the VAT aspects of finance and real estate transactions, and corporate international tax expert Tim Wustenberghs. Private client work forms a core pillar of the practice, with Mathieu Ex and director Caroline Costermans leading the advice to businesses, families and high-net-worth individuals on the tax aspects of wealth management. On the contentious side, Annick Visschers is a key individual in the tax controversy group, which handles tax litigation and tax risk management, among other areas. Director Filip Smet is also recommended for contentious work.

Practice head(s):

Danny Stas; Tim Wustenberghs; Annick Visschers; Mathieu Ex; Caroline Costermans

Other key lawyers:

Filip Smet

Testimonials

Caroline Costermans is very pleasant to work with‘.

Key clients

KBC Bank

Deutsche Bank

Johnson & Johnson

Rosy Blue

UK Government

Unilin

KU Leuven

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

Arteo

Tax boutique Arteo, which was established in January 2020, covers the full range of non-contentious and contentious tax work for clients. It particularly distinguishes itself in transfer pricing matters and tax litigation, and is also notably strong in M&A, private client matters and transactional mandates. Daniel Garabedian heads up the department. Jean-Michel Degée is a key name for advice on international tax planning and tax litigation. Steven Peeters is well-versed in restructuring matters, while An Weyn advises family businesses on estate planning. Associate Félix Teichmann is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Daniel Garabedian

Other key lawyers:

Jean-Michel Degée; Steven Peeters; An Weyn; Félix Teichmann

Work highlights

  • Assisting a utilities company with obtaining a tax ruling concerning the tax treatment of repatriated assets managed through a Luxembourg fund structure.
  • Successfully represented the Belgian subsidiary of a multinational food, drink and tobacco group in transfer pricing litigation, which was heard before the Belgian Supreme Court.
  • Representing a foreign state-owned pension fund in litigation concerning exemption from dividend withholding tax.

Bloom Law Firm

At Bloom Law Firm, Michel Maus continues to act for the Belgian cities of Blankenberge, Bruges and Ostend in tax litigation. Elsewhere, the team  advises prominent companies on the tax aspects of restructurings and real estate transactions, and it also handles insurance-related mandates. Maus jointly leads the practice with Denis-Emmanuel Philippe. Associate Damien Nicholas is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Denis-Emmanuel Philippe; Michel Maus

Other key lawyers:

Damien Nicholas

Work highlights

  • Advised Atalian on the tax aspects of the transfer of its holding company to Belgium.

Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance's 'knowledgeable and pragmatic' tax team 'brings together profound knowledge of tax law and case experience with hands-on clear advice, which offers an elegant solution to complex and often deal-breaking tax issues during a real estate transaction'. Real estate and REIT mandates are a core pillar of strength for the group; in one highlight, the group is assisting real estate investment company PATRIZIA with the tax aspects of its sale of a pan-European portfolio worth €135m. Other areas of expertise include tax litigation and advice to private equity funds on tax structurings. Practice head Alexandre Ooms is 'outstanding at coming up with pragmatic, effective and commercial solutions at short notice'. Senior associate Pierre-Olivier van Caubergh is another key name.

Practice head(s):

Alexandre Ooms

Other key lawyers:

Pierre-Olivier van Caubergh

Testimonials

Alexandre Ooms is top to work with; to-the-point, hands-on and very efficient‘.

Alexandre Ooms is very responsive. His calm demeanor makes him easy to work with and makes him effective in persuading people to his point of view‘.

The team is very professional and has consistently provided concise and outstanding tax advice while being very responsive and attentive to business needs. In-depth knowledge is combined with a practical approach to efficiently provide suitable solutions. It is a pleasure to work with them‘.

Alexandre Ooms is always available when needed and explains complex tax matters in a simplified straight forward manner‘.

Key clients

Fluxys

Atream

PATRIZIA

ENGIE Electrabel

Deka Immobilien

Work highlights

  • Advised PATRIZIA on the tax aspects of its acquisition of a €190m portfolio of Belgian properties from Athora.
  • Advising private banking company J. Safra Sarasin on the tax aspects of its first real estate acquisition in Belgium.

Eubelius

Eubelius has a strong track record covering a wide range of tax issues for clients in the real estate sector, including real estate developers and listed REITs. It also assists corporate clients with direct and indirect tax matters arising from outbound and inbound investments. Tax litigation is another key area of strength, with Svjatoslav Gnedasj being the key name for contentious work. Gnedasj co-heads the practice with 'excellent communicator' Wouter Claes. Counsel Korneel Decroix is recommended for VAT matters.

Practice head(s):

Wouter Claes; Svjatoslav Gnedasj

Other key lawyers:

Korneel Decroix

Testimonials

Wouter Claes is our go-to partner for tax matters, and is singularly brilliant in terms of analysis, structuring, creatively looking for solutions that combine the business rationales of a deal or operation with the legal framework in Belgium‘.

Key clients

bpost

Batopin

Xior Student Housing (REIT)

Liantis

Triple Living

Work highlights

  • Advising Batopin on the tax and VAT aspects of structuring a new optimised ATM network, this marks the first time Belgian banks outsource ATM activities to a jointly owned entity.
  • Assisted a state owned investment company with the tax aspects of the creation of a new fund of fund.
  • Representing bpost in ongoing court proceedings over the imposition of taxes on the distribution of advertising materials.

Stibbe

Stibbe's 'highly professional, responsive, and dedicated' tax team is led by VAT expert Wim Panis, who is 'business- and solution-oriented'. The group has been notably active recently advising on the tax aspects of high-profile M&A and private equity transactions, as well as handling transfer pricing matters. Panis is well regarded for his expertise in Belgian REITs and real estate investment funds. Henk Verstraete is well-versed in tax litigation. Counsel Giovanni Smet 'stands out for his knowledge with respect to movable withholding tax'. Senior associate Lizelotte De Maeyer is also recommended. Thierry Denayer retired from practice in February 2020.

Practice head(s):

Wim Panis

Other key lawyers:

Henk Verstraete; Giovanni Smet; Lizelotte De Maeyer

Key clients

Accor

Sofindev

Droia

Vertellus

Belfius

Work highlights

  • Assisted a fund managed by DWS with the tax aspects of its €2.5bn acquisition of Cube Infrastructure Fund and investment company’s Gimv’s stake in transport company Hansea.
  • Assisted Belgian real estate developer Alides with all tax aspects of the sale of the Oxygen Building, an office building in Brussels.
  • Assisted investment fund company Sofindev with the Belgian tax aspects of the structuring of a new private equity fund, Sofindev V, which will focus on small and mid-sized companies in the Netherlands.

Advisius

Tax boutique Advisius commenced operations in March 2020, and its practice is led by founding partner Laurent Donnay de Casteau, who joined from Osborne Clarke. The team advises a mix of Belgian and international entities on the full range of tax matters, including VAT, transfer pricing and the tax aspects of restructurings. Private client work is another core strength of the practice. Counsel Lionel Wellekens and associate Nawel Benaisa are key contacts.

Practice head(s):

Laurent Donnay de Casteau

Other key lawyers:

Lionel Wellekens; Nawel Benaisa

ARGO Law

ARGO Law's 'dedicated' and 'very reliable' team attracts praise as 'true specialists with strong market knowledge'. Philippe Rens, who is 'a real tax genius', advises private equity firms and corporates on the tax aspects of fund structurings and M&A, among other areas. On the private client side, the 'solution-driven' Hannes Casier acts for high-net-worth individuals and families on a broad range of work, including the tax aspects of trans-generational transfers of family wealth, as they relate to family businesses. Managing associate Lawrence Geernaert is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Philippe Rens; Hannes Casier

Other key lawyers:

Lawrence Geernaert

Testimonials

Argo Law can provide full-service on any tax and legal matters concerning private clients‘.

They have a no-nonsense approach combined with a very broad and in-depth knowledge‘.

Philippe Rens is a real problem solver with a very proactive attitude.

Philippe Rens is a business-oriented, talented, always available tax genius‘.

Argo Law combines tax and legal advice as a true one stop-shop, with specialists who know and understand each other. There is a ‘can-do’ approach’.

CMS

CMS' 'responsive' team handles a broad spectrum of direct and indirect taxation matters, and has had an increase in restructuring mandates. The group's expertise also includes tax litigation, VAT and excise duties, among other areas. Olivier Querinjean leads the group, in which senior associate Arnout  Vaninbroukx and associate Lancelot Decaesstecker are other names to note. Didier Grégoire joined Harvest in April 2020. Stéphanie Houx joined from Allen & Overy LLP.

Practice head(s):

Olivier Querinjean

Other key lawyers:

Stéphanie Houx; Arnout Vaninbroukx; Lancelot Decaesstecker

Key clients

Amazon

Deliveroo

Dexia

EDF Luminus

Eli Lilly

Thalys

Work highlights

  • Assisting Barc Lab with various international employment tax matters.
  • Provides ongoing advice to Deliveroo (both the parent company based in the UK and its Belgian subsidiary) on Belgian tax matters.
  • Advising technology company Kpler on the tax aspects of its restructuring, including the transfer of its head office to Belgium.

DALDEWOLF

Olivier Bertin leads DALDEWOLF's 'very talented' team, which advises clients on income tax, contentious tax matters and customs and excise issues. It also provides assistance with tax relocation matters, tax aspects of M&A and other corporate transactions, as well as usufruct schemes. Yaël Spiegl is recommended for her 'unique skills' in VAT matters.

Practice head(s):

Olivier Bertin

Other key lawyers:

Yaël Spiegl

DLA Piper

DLA Piper's tax practice, which is led by the 'always available' Philippe Hinnekens, is notably strong in international tax matters, and it works with the corporate department to advise clients on the tax aspects of corporate restructurings and M&A deals. The team's recent work included assisting clients with the tax aspects of investment fund structurings: Hinnekens continues to advise Five Arrow Managers SAS on tax issues, most recently concerning the structuring of new investment funds in France and Luxembourg. Tax litigation is another area of strength for the group. Gregory Komlosi moved to Eversheds Sutherland (Belgium) CVBA (a member of Eversheds Sutherland) in May 2020.

Practice head(s):

Philippe Hinnekens

Testimonials

The way the DLA Piper team works is exceptional. A team that shows great cohesion, that is interested in the client’s values‘.

The DLA Piper tax team have demonstrated flexibility and energy in working alongside us on transactions. They are able to take a commercial, risk based approach to their advice, which we find to be a crucial addition to technical expertise‘.

Key clients

Five Arrows Managers SAS

Idinvest Partners SA

Hamilton Hotel Partners

Eleven Sports Network

4C NV

BBVA

Work highlights

  • Representing BBVA in litigation concerning a tax repayment.
  • Advised French private equity company Idinvest Partners on the withholding tax and VAT aspects of a cross-border sale and lease-back transaction.

Mayer Brown

Astrid Pieron leads Mayer Brown's specialist European Transfer Pricing Centre, which operates out of the firm's Brussels office and provides a pan-European service to clients in relation to their transfer pricing strategies. The team also has strong capabilities in the tax aspects of M&A and the structuring of investment funds.

Monard Law

Hilde Van den Keybus is the head of Monard Law's 'strong' team, which is noted for its 'expert tax knowledge'. The group has notable expertise in tax litigation. In addition, it counts estate planning as a cornerstone strength of the practice, where the 'very proactive' team advises private clients and company shareholders on inheritance tax issues, among other matters. Key names in the team include Frédéric Lettany and Pieter Van Den Berghe, whose 'knowledge and experience in the field of innovation income deduction makes him stand out'.

Practice head(s):

Hilde Van den Keybus

Other key lawyers:

Frédéric Lettany; Pieter Van Den Berghe

Testimonials

Pieter Van Den Berghe has on different occasions proven to be Belgium’s pioneering tax professional in relation to the innovation income deduction regime‘.

The team has a no-nonsense approach‘.

Pieter Van den Berghe does not sell his services with big promises, but lets the results of his work speak for him. He owns his file meaning that he follows up proactively and delivers what he promised‘.

Pieter Van Den Berghe: very up to date, trustworthy and the consultant you want at your side when required. A no nonsense approach. His contribution is always to the point and valuable‘.

PwC Legal

At PwC Legal, the 'very knowledgeable' team is representing a multinational tobacco company in an ongoing dispute with Belgian customs authorities over the client’s alleged liability to pay VAT, import and excise duties and special excise duties; this matter is connected to a theft of cigarettes in Belgium. Senior counsel Véronique De Brabanter (noted for her 'out-of-the-box thinking') heads up the department, in which managing associate Gauthier Vael and senior associate Gilles Van Hulle are key contacts. In 2020, Tim Van Sant, senior managing associate Charlène Herbain and managing associate Liesbeth Vermeire left the firm.

Practice head(s):

Véronique De Brabanter

Other key lawyers:

Gauthier Vael; Gilles Van Hulle

Testimonials

The team is available, supportive and very good from a technical perspective‘.

Véronique De Brabanter shows excellent skills and experience as well as good judgement‘.

Work highlights

  • Representing a multinational logistics company in proceedings concerning a multilateral audit in which a number of tax authorities are challenging the applied transfer pricing policy.
  • Represented a payment services provider in longrunning proceedings before the Court of First Instance of Antwerp, concerning an investigation by the Special Tax Inspectorate into transaction data involving the use of foreign credit and debit cards in Belgium during 2015 and 2016; the Court ruled that the Inspectorate’s request was ill-founded as it violated Belgian banking secrecy.
  • Successfully defended a Belgian publishing company against a challenge brought by the Special Tax Inspectorate concerning the client’s method of processing copyrights paid to freelance journalists in its accounts.