Brussels, 26 September 2013
Taxation: Commission refers Belgium to Court over discriminatory inheritance tax provisions
The European Commission has decided to refer Belgium to the EU Court of Justice over tax rules in the Walloon Region that are discriminatory and in breach of EU rules on the free movement of capital.
The Walloon legislation provides for a choice between several share quotations to determine the taxable base for inheritance tax purposes. This provision allows heirs to choose the most favourable for them, usually the lowest.
This choice is however only offered for shares listed on a Belgian stock exchange. Shares listed on stock exchanges of other EU Member States or EEA States can only be valued at the stock market price at the time of death without any possible choice between quotations.
The Commission considers that the absence of choice while valuating shares listed on stock markets outside Belgium is discriminatory and restricts the free movement of capital as set out in article 63 of the Treaty on the Functioning of European Union.
In practice this may discourage Belgian residents from investing in foreign shares as their succession might be more heavily taxed.
The European Commission sent a reasoned opinion to Belgium in April 2012 formally requesting the Belgian authorities to amend this law (see IP/12/408). In the absence of a reaction from the Belgian authorities the European Commission has decided to refer the case to the Court of Justice.
For press releases on infringement cases in the taxation or customs field see:
For the latest general information on infringement measures against Member States see:
On the September infringement package decisions: MEMO/13/820
On the general infringement procedure: MEMO/12/12