The three main categories of taxable transactions are the following:
the supply of goods and the supply of services by a person liable to VAT, when they occur within the country;
the importation of goods into Belgium by any person whatsoever. Importation only refers to goods coming from a country which is not a Member State of the EU;
the intra-Community acquisition of goods coming from any other Member State of the EU.
1. Supply of goods
A supply of goods is the transfer or assignment of the power to dispose of the goods as the owner thereof. Certain other transactions are also considered as supplies (Art. 10).
The term goods shall be understood to mean any tangible property including gas, electric current, heat, refrigeration and any rights in rem (other than the right of ownership) giving the holder thereof a right of user over immovable property, with the exception of certain long lease rights (Art. 9).
Where the goods are not dispatched or transported, the place of supply shall be deemed to be the place where the goods are when the supply takes place (Art. 14, §1).
Where the goods are dispatched or transported by the supplier, the purchaser or a third party, the place of supply shall be deemed to be the place where the goods are at the time when dispatch or transport to the person to whom they are supplied begins. Where the place of departure of the consignment or transport of goods is in a third territory or in a third country, the place of supply shall be deemed to be, as a rule, in the Member State into which the goods were imported in the European Union (Art. 14, §2).
Where the goods are installed or assembled by or on behalf of the supplier, the place of supply shall be deemed to be the place of such an installation or assembly (Art. 14, §3).
Where the supply is made on board ships, aircraft or trains in the course of the part of the transport of passengers effected in the Community, the place of supply shall be deemed to be the point of departure of the transport of passengers (Art. 14, §4).
In the case of the supply of gas through a natural gas system, electricity or heat or refrigeration, the place of supply shall be deemed to be the place where the customer has effective use and consumption of the goods (with exceptions, such as taxpayers whose principal activity is reselling these goods; in this case, the place of supply shall be deemed to be, as a rule, the place where the purchaser has established his business or has a fixed establishment) (Art. 14bis).
The place of supply, however, shall always be in Belgium when the goods, which are not new means of transport or are not assembled or installed by, or on behalf of, the supplier, are dispatched or transported by the latter from another Member State of the EU to Belgium (system of remote sales ‑ Art.15,§ 1) and if the supply of the goods is carried out for :
an exempt taxable person or a non-taxable legal person (up to the exempt amount of € 11,200, excluding VAT, see below);
any other non-taxable person.
For the supply of goods other than excise goods (viz. energy products (except for gas supplied by a natural gas system), alcohol and alcoholic beverages, as well as manufactured tobacco) for a total amount per calendar year not exceeding € 35,000 (excluding VAT), the place of supply shall be in this case Belgium only if this is so chosen by the supplier (for example, a mail-order selling firm established in another Member State of the EU).
As a rule, the tax becomes due ("taxable event") at the time of delivery of the goods (Art. 17). In certain cases, however, another arrangement may apply (deferred payment till the 15th day of the following month [for intra-Community traffic] or liability arising upon invoicing or upon cashing).
2. Supply of services
A service is defined as any operation other than the supply of goods within the meaning of the VAT Code (Art. 18). Some examples of the services mentioned explicitly are : any physical or intellectual work, among which supplies under a contract to make up work from customer's materials, (that is to say delivery by a contractor to his customer of movable property made or assembled by the contractor from materials and objects entrusted to him by the customer for his purpose, whether or not the contractor has provided any part of the materials used), the supply of staff, the granting of the right to enjoy the possession of goods (except certain tangible property mentioned in Art. 9), the supply of parking space for vehicles or of storage room, the supply of furnished rooms or a campground, the supply of food and beverages, the granting of a right of access to cultural, sporting or entertainment activities, radioand television broadcasting services and telecommunications services, the granting of the right of access to traffic routes and to the corresponding civil engineering works, electronic supplied services, etc..
A service for a consideration shall be deemed to also include notably the performance by a taxable person of work on real property for the purpose of his economic activity (save a few exceptions) as also for his private needs or those of his personnel, and, more generally, free of charge or for purposes unrelated to his economic activity (Art. 19).
As regards the place where a service is supplied (Art. 21 to 21ter), recipients of the service must be distinguished. If the recipient is a taxable person, a hybrid taxable person or a non-taxable legal person identified for VAT purposes, the place where the service is supplied is the place where the recipient has established his business or the place where he has a fixed establishment. If the place of this fixed establishment is not the same as the place where the business has been established, the place of the fixed establishment prevails.
There are several exceptions to this (Art. 21), for instance the place where the immovable property, to which the service relates, is situated; for passenger transport, the place where the transport takes place, according to the distance covered; the place where the event or the activity actually takes place (giving access to some events and activities and services linked to those events or activities); the place where the service is physically carried out (restaurant and catering services, with some exceptions); the place where the means of transport is actually put at the disposal of the recipient (short term hiring); the place of departure of the passenger transport (restaurant and catering services on board ships, aircraft or trains during the part of the transport taking place in the European Union).
If the recipient is a non-taxable person, the place where the service is supplied is the place where the service provider has established his business or the place where he has a fixed establishment. Here too, the place of the fixed establishment prevails where the place of this fixed establishment is not the same as the place where the business has been established.
There is also a whole series of exceptions to this (Art. 21bis), for instance the place where the immovable property, to which the service relates, is situated; for passenger transport, the place where the transport takes place, according to the distance covered; the place where the transport takes place, according to the distance covered (transport of goods except for intra-Community transport of goods: the place of departure prevails for this kind of transport); the place where the event or the activity actually takes place (giving access to some events and activities and services linked to those events or activities); the place where the service is physically carried out (restaurant and catering services, with some exceptions; services ancillary to transport activities; valuations and work on movable property); the place where the means of transport is actually put at the disposal of the recipient (short term hiring); the place of departure of the passenger transport (restaurant and catering services on board ships, aircraft or trains during the part of the transport taking place in the European Union); the place where the recipient of the service is established (for telecommunications services, radio and television broadcasting services and electronically supplied services), and for services supplied to a recipient established outside the European Union and relating to advertising, services of consultants, lawyers, accountants, etc., banking, financial and insurance transactions, supply of staff, hiring out of movable property (except for means of transport), provision of access to natural gas systems located on the territory of the European Union or to networks connected thereto, to electricity systems or to heating or cooling networks, or to transport or distribution by means of those systems or networks, and the supply of other services directly linked thereto.
The taxable event occurs, as a rule, at the time the service is supplied(Art. 22). The tax is then also due. In certain cases (partial billing or services of a continuous nature), another arrangement may apply (for example invoicing or cashing).
The term importation is used for goods that are introduced into a Member State of the EU from outside the EU. The importation takes place in the Member State of the EU within the territory of which the goods are located at the time of entry into the Community (Art. 23). There are a number of exceptions to this rule, especially in relation with special customs procedures pursuant to Customs legislation.
The taxable event takes place, as a rule, in Belgium and the tax is due in this country upon importation of the goods into Belgium (Art. 24).
4. Intra-Community acquisition of goods
An intra-Community acquisition of goods is the acquisition of the right to enjoy the power of ownership with respect to tangible movable property which is dispatched or transported, by or on account of the seller or the purchaser, to the purchaser in a Member State of the EU other than the one from which the goods are dispatched or transported (Art. 25bis).
The tax shall be levied on intra-Community acquisitions of goods in Belgium for a consideration, which are made by :
a taxable person acting in that capacity;
a non-taxable person who is not entitled to exemption (see below), where the seller is a taxable person acting in that capacity (Art. 25ter).
Intra-Community acquisitions of goods are not, however, subject to the VAT in the following cases (Art.25ter):
1. if the acquisition is made (Art. 25ter, § 1, 2°) :
by a taxable person to whom the exemption arrangements are applicable (certain small enterprises);
by certain agricultural enterprises which are subject to a flat-rate system;
by a taxable person who effects exclusively the delivery of goods and the provision of services for which he is not entitled to deduction of the VAT (i.e. the taxable persons exempted, for example physicians, schools, hospitals, etc.);
by a non-taxable legal person;
within the limits of a total amount per calendar year of €11,200 (excluding VAT). This arrangement is not applicable to new means of transport, nor to excise goods (which are anyway, under these circumstances, subject to VAT in Belgium). The above-mentioned taxable and non-taxable legal persons can choose, however, to have all their intra-Community acquisitions of goods subjected to the tax in Belgium; this choice applies for a period of two calendar years at least;
2. if the acquisition is made by a taxable person not established in Belgium, but identified in another Member State of the EU for VAT purposes, with a view to subsequent delivery in Belgium by the latter taxable person to a taxable or non-taxable legal person identified in this country for VAT purposes and if, in addition, these goods, coming from another Member State of the EU than the one in which the purchaser is identified for VAT purposes, are dispatched or transported directly to the customer identified in Belgium for VAT purposes and if, in addition the latter is designated as the one who has to pay the VAT of the delivery made in Belgium (the so-called simplified system for triangular transactions) (Art. 25ter, § 1, 3°);
3. if we are concerned with used goods, works of art, collectors' pieces or antiques, which are sold by a taxable person who resells and is acting as such, and if, in addition, the goods have been subjected, in the EU Member State of departure, to the special system of taxation on the margin (see Art. 58, § 4), as well as in a number of other cases (Art. 25ter, § 1, 4°).
Intra-Community acquisitions, made in Belgium, of new means of transport are always subject to tax, irrespective of the person who makes them (a taxable person acting in that capacity, for example a car trader, a taxable person exempted, a non-taxable legal person and all private individuals).
The location of an intra-Community acquisition of goods is, as a rule, the place where the goods were located at the time of arrival of the consignment or transport to the purchaser (Art. 25quinquies). However, if the purchaser is unable to prove that the tax was levied in that manner, the location of intra-Community delivery shall be deemed to be within the Member State of the EU which has granted the VAT identification number under which the purchaser made that acquisition. Unless there is proof to the contrary, the intra-Community acquisition shall be deemed to have taken place in Belgium if the purchaser has a Belgian VAT identification number.
The taxable event takes place at the time the intra-Community acquisition of goods occurs. This time is determined according to the same rules as those applied to the delivery of goods in the country (Art. 25sexies, §1 and Art. 16). The tax shall become chargeable on the 15th day of the month following that in which the taxable event occurred, unless the invoice for the delivery/acquisition was issued to the purchaser before that date. In this case, the tax shall become chargeable on issue of the invoice (Art. 25sexies, §2).
As a rule, the tax basis of the VAT is the amount which the contracting partner of the supplier of goods or of the provider of services must pay to his supplier or provider. This amount also includes the commission, insurance and transportation costs as well as the taxes (except the VAT itself), duties and levies.
The tax basis does not include, however, certain price reductions and similar discounts, deposits on packaging, etc.
Special arrangements apply notably to imports (where the basis is, as a rule, the customs value), to transactions for which the price is not expressed in cash only (the normal value as the tax basis) and to the services of travel agencies, etc.
There is a minimum tax basis for certain goods and services, such as for new buildings.