Business trips abroad: New flat rate allowances 2018

11 Jul 2018

The new list of flat rate daily allowances that the Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs grants to its employees who go on short business trips abroad was approved by Ministerial decision of 2 July 2018 (see link , page 26 of the pdf).

These daily allowances cover various costs for meals and other minor expenses for which it is difficult to obtain a receipt, but not the cost of the hotel and return trip.

Both the tax and social security authorities consider these daily flat rate allowances, if they are granted by an employer in the private sector, to be reimbursements of costs for the employer, which are exempt from taxes and social security contributions.

As in the past, the new list, which applies as of 6 July 2018, distinguishes between daily flat rate allowances for “category 1” and (lower) allowances for “category 2”. Most allowances have been adjusted (some have increased, others have decreased).

The system applies, in principle, to “short foreign trips”, namely those lasting no longer than 30 days.

However, both the tax authorities (in their Circular of 10 October 2013) and the NOSS (in its “Instructions”) accept that daily allowances can also be considered to be an exempted reimbursement in case of a stay longer than 30 days if:

  • the maximum amount of the allowance is that of “category 2” (the lower amount);
  • the (same) business trip lasts longer than 30 successive calendar days with a maximum of 24 months;
  • the grant or payment ends if the employee or manager permanently sets up home abroad.

Finally, we would remind you that the tax authorities, in their Circular of 15 April 2011, specify that the daily flat rate allowances are not applicable to employees or managers for whom travelling abroad is part of “their normal daily professional activity”.

> Action point

As of 6 July 2018, you can apply the amounts of the flat rate allowances for short business trips abroad, which you will find in the following new list (see link , page 26 of the pdf).