It is becoming easier to pay out a tax-free homeworking allowance of a maximum of EUR 129.48. Via the circular letter of 14 July 2020, Belgian tax authorities have made it possible to introduce a homeworking allowance, without a ruling. It is reported that the tax authorities will shortly expand the scope of the decision to include an allowance for the payment of a differentiated amount and a clarification regarding what is covered by this compensation. With homeworking becoming the norm, an increasing number of companies will pay this allowance to a larger amount of employee categories. As a result, many companies have been able to free up budget space caused by the reduction of the reimbursement for commuting and the lower cost of maintaining a company restaurant. These budgets can now be used to finance the homeworking allowance.
Better equipment for homeworking
It is essential for both employers and employees to be able to work from home in the best conditions. An ergonomic mouse and keyboard, a comfortable office chair, noise cancelling headphones and an extra screen are no longer a superfluous luxury. This can be implemented in a budget-neutral way through a cafeteria plan. We recommend that you review this from a legal and fiscal perspective and ensure that the processes can be automated. Since there can be uncertainty about the (para)fiscal valuation of, for example, an office chair, this can still be a major challenge in the future. KPMG solved this, for example, by setting up extensive API connections with two multimedia providers.
Mobility Budget 2.0
A new government coalition agreement says that the mobility budget will be extended to everyone, including employees who are not yet entitled to a company car. That would be a step in the right direction. However, it seems optimistic to expect that goal to become law in 2021. We do see that many more companies are introducing mobility budgets that vary in amount. There is also a legislative proposal pending, in the Chamber of Representatives, to improve the mobility budget, although the adjustments are rather limited. In addition to legislation, we also see another trend, namely, that employees are increasingly encouraging various forms of mobility by means of a budget allocation. Therefore, we should not overestimate the importance of the federal mobility budget: most employees still need a company car. It is therefore important for employers to look beyond the mobility budget.
Many companies will have to revise their entire mobility policy. A more flexible approach to mobility is imperative. Fixed choices that apply for a full year, such as an annual ticket for the NMBS/SNCB, therefore seem to be a thing of the past. In most companies, employees are expected to work from home at least two days a week. The many mobility apps can offer a solution for this. However, making a suitable choice within the wide range of possibilities is still a challenge. Bicycle leasing will also gain in popularity once again. Companies that do not offer bicycle leasing will gradually find themselves among the few that don’t.
Towards a new car policy
For companies that have not yet done so, 2021 will be the year to renew their car policy. For example, first steps must be taken towards the integration of electric cars. Flexibility and Total Cost of Ownership will also need to be introduced to keep costs under control and encourage employees to choose greener cars. We therefore recommend that you thoroughly review your car policy and make it "future proof."
An improvised bonus?
In many companies, no bonus or CLA90 will be paid in 2021 because the targets have not been achieved. Since good performance should still be rewarded, companies are looking for creative solutions. Of course, you can always pay an individual cash bonus, but allocating a flex budget to those employees who earn it can also be a solution. With this budget, employees can still choose for a cash pay-out of their bonus but can also spend it on green mobility (such as bicycle leasing) or equipment for working from home.
Total Reward Statement
More and more companies want employees to fully understand their compensation package, so they are less likely to switch employers because of a low gross salary. A Total Reward Statement provides an up-to-date overview of the total remuneration package, from cash and insurance to the free coffee at work. It is important to also pay attention to the less tangible benefits, such as training and well-being (especially in the context of working from home) and that all benefits be appreciated as much as possible. It is advisable to offer a Total Reward Statement via an online tool, possibly integrated into the cafeteria plan tool.
Exemption from payment of withholding tax for training
In the complex Belgian tax landscape, the government has introduced an additional withholding tax exemption for training. If certain conditions are met 11.75% of a capped wage for the month in which the training was completed can be recovered through a withholding tax exemption. In principle the new rule will start on 1 January 2021. Furthermore, it cannot be ruled out that the government will announce other new measures.