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Brussels, 6 April 2011

Taxation: Commission requests Belgium to amend two discriminatory inheritance tax provisions

The European Commission has formally requested Belgium to amend two aspects of its inheritance tax legislation which are discriminatory for non-resident heirs or recipients of gifts and for foreign organisations. The Commission considers that both provisions are in breach of EU rules on the free movement of capital. The Commission's requests take the form of "reasoned opinions" (second step of EU infringement proceedings). In the absence of satisfactory responses within two months, the Commission may refer Belgium to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Under Belgian gift tax and succession duties legislation, foreign heirs or recipients of gifts of movable assets located in Belgium have to provide a guarantee. In case they do not provide this guarantee, they can have the totality of the succession or donation assets blocked by the Belgian authorities.

In addition, inheritance legislation as applicable in Wallonia, grants certain Belgian organisations such as public bodies and non-profit organisations, an exemption or a reduction from succession duties and gift tax while their foreign equivalents have to pay the normal tax.

The Commission is of the opinion that both provisions are discriminatory and constitute unjustified restrictions on the free movement of capital, as provided for in Article 63 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and Article 40 of the European Economic Area Agreement. Indeed, these rules could discourage citizens from moving to another EU country and from assigning an inheritance or a gift to an equivalent organisation located in another EU Member State. The Commission does not see any possible justification for this discrimination.

For the press releases issued on infringement proceedings in the area of taxation or customs see:

For the most up-to-date general information on the infringement proceedings initiated against Member States, see:

For more information on EU infringement procedures, see MEMO/11/220

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