Business trips abroad: New flat rate allowances

29 Nov 2017

Last month we sent you a newsflash with the new flat rate daily allowances that the Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs grants to its employees who go on short business trips abroad. However, this list was changed last week. Hereby we provide you with the new amounts that were published in the Belgian Official Gazette of 22 November 2017 .

With regards to business trips abroad as of 1 October 2017 for which on 22 November 2017 there has not yet been any allocation of daily flat rate allowances and/or housing allowances, the new amounts can be used if this is more favourable to the employee of the FPS Foreign Affairs. In principle, this rule can also be applied for allowances paid by employers to employees in the private sector.

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 1 October 2017, distinguishes between daily flat rate allowances for “category 1” and (lower) allowances for “category 2”. Most allowances have been adapted (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 1 October 2017, 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 ).

If on 22 November 2017 no daily flat rate allowance and/or housing allowance has been allocated for foreign business trips as of 1 October 2017, the new amounts can be applied when they are more favourable to the employee in question.