The corona consumption voucher has landed

23 Jul 2020

Today, the last piece of the corona consumption voucher legislative puzzle was published in the Belgian Official Gazette: the Act containing the exemption from personal income taxes and the deductibility as professional expense for the employer. The Royal Decree containing the conditions that must be met in order for the consumption voucher to be exempt from social security contributions was already published in the Belgian Official Gazette of 17 July 2020. If these conditions are met, the consumption voucher will be fully exempt from personal income taxes and deductible as professional expense as well.

General principles 

As already announced in the beginning of June, the Belgian government has introduced the concept of a corona consumption voucher, aimed at boosting the recovery of some of the industries that have been hit the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic: the hospitality industry, the cultural industry, sport clubs and small retail businesses that were forced to close for at least 1 month as a result of the pandemic. Employers are free to decide whether or not they would like to grant consumption vouchers to their employees and the voucher can be issued on paper or electronically.

If the below conditions are met, this voucher is exempt from social security contributions and personal income taxes up to a maximum total amount of EUR 300 and may also be fully deducted as a professional expense by the employer. However, if one or more of these conditions isn’t met, the consumption vouchers will be considered salary and fully subject to social security contributions and personal income taxes:

  • First of all, the same principles apply as in the case of e.g. meal vouchers, namely that corona consumption vouchers cannot be attributed as a replacement or conversion of salary, premiums, benefits in kind, etc and cannot be partly or fully exchanged for cash. 
  • Formal requirements must also be met in order to benefit from the exemption from social security contributions and personal income taxes. Indeed, the attribution of the consumption voucher must be included in a industry-level or a company-level collective bargaining agreement (CBA). If concluding a company-level CBA is not possible because there's no union delegation in the company or if it concerns a category of employees for which it’s not customary to be covered by such CBA, the attribution must be laid down in individual agreements. The CBA or the individual agreement must determine the nominal value of the corona consumption voucher, with a maximum of EUR 10 per voucher.
  • Furthermore, the corona voucher must be issued in the name of the receiving employee. This condition is deemed to be fulfilled if its granting, the number of vouchers and their amounts are mentioned in the employee’s individual account.

Finally, in order to be exempt from social security contributions and personal income taxes, the corona consumption voucher must clearly mention a number of mandatory provisions, such as: 

  • the date of issuance (can be issued until 31 December 2020);
  • the fact that the voucher is valid until 7 June 2021 (i.e. a period of 12 months starting on the date on which the hospitality industry started receiving again; 8 June 2020);
  • the fact that the voucher can only be used in the hospitality industry, in small retail businesses that were forced to close for at least 1 month due to the pandemic, in certain institutions of the cultural industry and in certain sport clubs.

The above conditions are the ones that are applicable to corona consumption vouchers in paper form. These conditions are equally applicable to electronic consumption vouchers, however, these also require the below additional conditions to be met:

  • the amount of the issued consumption vouchers must be mentioned on the employee’s payslip;

  • before using electronic consumption vouchers, the employee must be able to easily verify the amount and the period of validity of of his outstanding consumption vouchers;

  • electronic consumption vouchers can only be issued by a regular supplier (also see below); 

  • the use of electronic consumption vouchers may not entail any cost for the employee, except in the event of theft or loss under the conditions to be laid down in an industry-level of company-level CBA or by the work regulations when the choice of electronic consumption vouchers is governed by an individual written agreement.

Wage norm

It’s important to point out that, as laid down in a Royal Decree of 26 June 2020, the corona consumption vouchers must not be taken into account for the 2019-2020 maximum margin of wage increase of 1,1%.

Where to buy?

The corona consumption vouchers will be issued by the regular suppliers of e.g. meal vouchers: Sodexo, Edenred and Monizze. Next to these suppliers, the corona consumption voucher can also be offered by the institutions or establishments it aims to support themselves. For example, hotels and restaurants can offer employers corona consumption vouchers, however, these vouchers will only be valid in the issuing establishment, where vouchers issued by one of the above providers will in principle be valid across the envisaged industries.

If you require more information on this new corona consumption voucher  or require practical guidance with the implementation thereof, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Contact us

Bart Elias

Bart Elias

Partner, PwC Legal BV/SRL

Tel: +32 473 91 06 02

Pascale Moreau

Pascale Moreau

Partner, PwC Legal BV/SRL

Tel: +32 479 90 02 76

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