Jean Baeten (Belgian Business Federation): "We are swimming in the midst of divisive propaganda" - Companies

Jean Baeten (Belgian Business Federation): “We are swimming in the midst of divisive propaganda” – Companies

The FEB’s tax expert reacts to the tax reform items proposed by the High Council of Finance.

1. How do you judge the tax reform project put forward by the High Council of Finance (CSF)?

1. How do you judge the tax reform project put forward by the High Council of Finance (CSF)? These proposals do not constitute an “official opinion” to be followed by the government, it must be remembered. Moreover, they are just aimed at eliminating tax regimes in a purely mechanical way without any qualitative analysis and without in-depth evaluation. There is no overall vision. More broadly, we can only be disappointed by the working method chosen to surround this tax reform dreamed up by Vivaldi. The Minister of Finance entrusted a working group led by Mark Delanote, professor of tax law at the University of Ghent (UGent), to work on the subject. But we don’t have the faintest idea who is on this group of experts. Everything happens in the greatest opacity and without any public debate. At the FEB, we are observers: we can only react to what we see and read in the press, such as these CSF recommendations which have just been leaked. All this is not up to the challenge. 2. What shocks you most about these CSF proposals? The CSF recommends reducing taxes, in particular on work, to the tune of around 6 billion euros. But to finance the effort, he proposes for example to abolish meal vouchers, to tax family allowances and to raise VAT to 22%. This proposal to raise the VAT seems to me totally aberrant, for two reasons. One: it would amount to increasing consumption tax at a time when we are trying to strengthen purchasing power. Two: this increase will quickly be found in the indexation of wages, while inflation is already breaking records and is a problem for many companies. It makes you wonder if those who imagine this kind of measure sometimes read the newspaper. 3. According to you, are we far from real reform? We are very far from that. It is a reform imagined in a small committee by technicians. And then politically transformed into a beautiful story to tell, storytelling, with a cake that must be big enough for everyone to eat. We are far from a substantial and well-argued work of reflection, having to reduce labor taxation for all and position Belgium competitively on the international economic scene by 2030. In short, we are swimming in the midst of divisive propaganda. I am also very worried about the consequences, including on the electoral level in 2024, that such a reform could have if it were to be carried out under this legislature.

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