February 1, 2024
The proceeds from withholding tax and the securities and exchange tax increased by 8.2 percent last year. Investors contributed a record amount of more than 6.1 billion euros to the treasury.
Total tax revenues will have increased by 4.5 percent to 140.1 billion euros in 2023, according to figures from the Federal Public Service Finance. The withholding tax yielded more than 9 percent more, partly because roughly 1 million employees received a wage indexation of around 11 percent at the beginning of last year. The advance payments and excise duties also generated a lot of extra money for the treasury.
Full screen display
The rising popularity of term deposits and bonds has boosted withholding tax revenues.
It is also noticeable that investors have clearly contributed more. The withholding tax, the tax on securities accounts and the stock exchange tax together raised a record amount of 6.1 billion euros. That is 8.2 percent more than in 2022. This increase can only be attributed to withholding tax. The proceeds grew by 10.6 percent to 5.4 billion euros.
There are several reasons why investors paid much more withholding tax. Firstly, they invested many billions extra in term accounts and bonds. That money came from savings accounts and current accounts, which have a lower return.
- The proceeds from withholding tax, securities tax and stock exchange tax rose to a record high of 6.1 billion.
- The withholding tax collected more due to the rise in interest rates and the greater popularity of term accounts and bonds.
- The securities tax yielded less because the value of bonds fell.
- The increase in tax revenues did not lead to a decrease in the budget deficit.
The proceeds from term deposits and bonds are taxed more heavily than those from savings accounts. The tax authorities levies 30 percent withholding tax on the interest on term accounts and bonds from the first euro. Last year, the interest on regulated savings accounts was exempt from withholding tax up to 980 euros, above which 15 percent withholding tax was collected. Current accounts generally do not generate any income for the government, because the interest rate at most banks is zero.
The increase in interest rates has also contributed to the higher withholding tax yield. Investors with a term account or a bond portfolio receive more interest than before and therefore have to pay more withholding tax. Investors who subscribed to the highly successful, tax-friendly government bond will collect the interest in September of this year and only then have to pay withholding tax – a tax limited to 15 percent.
The withholding tax on dividends collected less after the sharp increase in 2022. Some companies, such as KBC, reduced their dividend in 2023 after paying out an exceptionally high amount to shareholders the year before.
The yield from the securities tax fell because the rise in interest rates caused the value of bonds and bond funds to fall.
The proceeds from the securities tax also decreased by 6 percent to 386 million euros. This is mainly due to the rise in interest rates, which caused the value of bonds and bond funds to fall. Private individuals, companies and other legal entities must pay 0.15 percent securities tax if the value of their securities account exceeds 1 million euros.
The increase in tax revenues has not led to a decrease in the budget deficit, because government expenditure has increased even faster. The National Bank expects that the budget deficit of all governments together will rise to 4.3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2023. That is about 25 billion euros. In 2022, the deficit amounted to 3.5 percent of GDP or 19.6 billion euros.