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Reductions and exemptions

The reductions and exemptions apply both to inheritance tax (residents) and to duty on the transfer of property mortis causa (non-residents).

  • Spouses and legally cohabiting partners: exemption for the family home

    The spouse or legally cohabiting partner does not have to pay inheritance tax or duty on the transfer of property mortis causa on his or her net share of the property that was the family home at the time of the deceased person’s death.

    Please note: this exemption does not apply if the legally cohabiting partner is:

    • a lineal blood relative (grandparent, parent, child, grandchild, etc.) of the deceased or a beneficiary treated as a lineal blood relative for the purposes of applying the rate;
    • a brother, sister, nephew, niece, uncle or aunt of the deceased.

    However, a reduced rate can be applied to the main residence of these legal cohabitants.

    There is also an exemption for the last property used as a family home if the spouses or cohabiting partners are no longer living together at the time of death as a result of:

    • separation
      or
    • force majeure lasting until the time of death.

    How do I apply?

    • If you were living with the deceased person at the time of his or her death, the exemption is normally applied automatically.
    • If you were no longer living together as a result of force majeure, you must apply for the exemption in the declaration of estate. In that case you must also provide proof of the force majeure.
  • Cohabitants and lineal relatives: reduced rate for the main residence

    A reduced rate can be applied to cohabitants or lineal heirs (children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, etc.) if the estate:

    • includes a fully owned part of a building;
    • the deceased person had his or her main residence in that building for at least five years.

    Some cohabitants may be eligible for full exemption of the family home.

    In that case, the following rates apply to that part of the estate (main residence).

    Tax brackets in EUR Percentage per bracket
    from to
    0.01 50 000 2 %
    50 000.01 100 000 5.3 %
    100 000.01 175 000 6 %
    175 000.01 250 000 12 %
    The preferential rate applies up to a maximum of EUR 250 000. The standard rate applies to any amount over this:
    250 000.01 500 000 24 %
    over 500 000 30 %

    Notes:

    • You can prove that the building concerned was the main residence of the deceased with an extract from the population register or the foreign nationals register.
    • The preferential rate still applies if the deceased was unable to retain his or her main residence as a result of force majeure.

    How do I apply?

    • If you were living with the deceased at the time of his or her death, the exemption is normally applied automatically.
    • If you were no longer living together as a result of force majeure, you must apply for the exemption in the declaration of estate. In that case you must also provide proof of force majeure.

  • Spouses, cohabiting partners and lineal relatives: partial exemption from inheritance tax

    Reduction

    Spouses, cohabiting partners or lineal heirs do not have to pay inheritance tax on the first EUR 15 000 of their inheritance. The reduction does not apply to the share received by a grandchild alone as legatee.

    Additional reduction for children under the age of 21

    Children of the deceased person who are under the age of 21 receive an additional exemption of EUR 2 500 for each full year remaining until they are 21.

    Half of the combined additional exemptions received by common children is also granted to the spouse or cohabiting partner.

    Example of the reduction for children under the age of 21

    Anna Peeters dies leaving her daughter Els as heir. Els is 17 years and 6 months old.

    After deducting funeral costs and Anna’s debts, the value of the estate is EUR 30 000.

    Els is entitled to the following exemptions:

    • a tax-free sum of EUR 15 000
    • an additional tax-free sum of EUR 2 500 x 3 (= full years until she is 21) EUR 7 500

    Total: EUR 22 500 tax free.

    The inheritance tax payable by Els is calculated as EUR 30 000 – EUR 22 500 (= exempt sum) = EUR 7 500.

    She must pay the following amount of inheritance tax: EUR 7 500 x 3 % = EUR 225.

  • Heirs with at least three children under the age of 21: inheritance tax reduction

    Heirs with at least three living children under the age of 21 at the time of the deceased person's death receive a 2 % reduction in inheritance tax for each of those children, up to a maximum of EUR 62 per child.

    The deceased person's partner receives a 4 % reduction for each child under 21, up to a maximum of EUR 124 per child.

  • Property that is included in the estate of another deceased person within a year: 50 % inheritance tax reduction

    If the inherited property is included in the estate of one or more other deceased persons within a year of the deceased person’s death, the inheritance tax due on it is halved.

    However, the amount of the reduction must not exceed the inheritance tax levied on the previous estate.

  • Brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces and other persons: inheritance tax exemption for small estates

    If the estate is worth less than EUR 1 250, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces or other heirs do not have to pay inheritance tax on their net share.

  • Testamentary gifts to authorities: inheritance tax exemptions and reductions

    There is an exemption from inheritance tax for legacies (testamentary gifts) to:

    • the Brussels Capital Region;
    • the Brussels agglomeration;
    • the Flemish, French and Common Community Commissions;
    • the French, Flemish and German-Speaking Communities and the Flemish and Walloon Regions;
    • legal entities governed by public law that are treated in the same way as these entities and were established under, and are subject to, the laws of another Member State of the European Economic Area;
    • a Member State of the European Economic Area;
    • the public institutions of one of these entities.

    The inheritance tax is reduced to 7 % for legacies to:

    • municipalities of the Brussels Capital Region and their public institutions;
    • companies recognised by the Brusselse Gewestelijke Huisvestingsmaatschappij | Société du Logement de la Région de Bruxelles-Capital [Brussels Regional Housing Advisory Company];
    • the Woningfonds van het Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest | Fonds du Logement de la Région de Bruxelles-Capitale [Brussels Regional Housing Fund] a cooperative society with limited liability;
    • inter-communal associations of the Brussels Capital Region;
    • public-interest foundations;
    • not-for-profit organisations and other non-profit-making legal entities that have obtained the Federal recognition referred to in the Income Tax Code 1992 on the date of the deceased person's death or in the year following the death.

    The inheritance tax is reduced to 25 % for legacies to:

    • national and international not-for-profit organisations;
    • sickness insurance funds or their national federations;
    • professional associations
    • private foundations.
  • Family businesses and companies: reduced rates

    The following reduced inheritance tax rate can be applied to family businesses and companies:

    • 3 % for married couples, cohabiting partners and lineal relatives;
    • 7 % for other persons.

    What kind of property does this apply to?

    Family businesses

    The reduced rate applies to the net value of the full ownership or legal ownership of, or the usufructuary rights to, the assets invested professionally in a family business by the deceased person or his or her partners.

    Please note: the reduction does not apply to immovable property that is primarily for residential use.

    Family companies

    The reduced rate applies to the net value of the full ownership or legal ownership of, or usufructuary rights to, shares in a family company with its effective centre of management in one of the Member States of the European Economic Area, on condition that, at the time of the deceased person’s death:

    • at least 50 % of the company’s shares were fully owned by the deceased person and his or her family
      or
    • at least 30 % of the company's shares were fully owned by the deceased person and his or her family if they meet the following conditions:
      • that, together with one other shareholder and his or her family, they are full owners of at least 70 % of the company’s shares
        or
      • that, together with two other shareholders and their families, they are full owners of at least 90 % of the company's shares.
        Shares of legal entities cannot be combined with the deceased person’s shares.

    The company must be engaged in a genuine economic activity.

    The deceased person’s family or the shareholders include:

    • the partner of the deceased person or shareholder;
    • the lineal relatives of the deceased person or shareholder and their partners;
    • the collateral relatives of the deceased person or shareholder up to the second degree and their partners;
    • the children of brothers and sisters of the deceased person or shareholder.

    Conditions for retaining the reduction

    Family businesses

    The reduced rate is retained only if, for at least three continuous years from the date of the deceased person's death:

    • the economic activity of the family business continues without interruption;
    • the immovable property transferred, to which the reduction was applied, also continues to be used for the purposes of the business.

    Family companies

    The reduced rate is retained only if, for at least three continuous years from the date of the deceased person's death, all of the following conditions are met.

    Activities

    The family company continues to operate without interruption.

    Annual financial statements

    Annual financial statements or consolidated annual financial statements are prepared for each of the three years and, where appropriate, published in accordance with the accounting legislation of the Member State in which the company has its registered office at the time of the deceased person's death.

    The annual financial statements are used for the income tax declaration.

    Capital

    The capital does not fall as a result of distributions or repayments.

    Effective centre of management

    The company's effective centre of management is not transferred to a state outside the European Economic Area.

    How do I apply?

    • Attach a certificate from the Brussels Capital Region, confirming that the conditions have been met, to the declaration of estate.
    • By the 500th day after the date of death, send the office that dealt with the estate a certificate from the Brussels Capital Region confirming that the conditions were met for the first 365 days after the date of death.
    • By the 865th day after the date of death, send the office that dealt with the estate a certificate from the Brussels Capital Region confirming that the conditions were met from the 366th to the 730th day after the date of death.
  • Any questions?