COVID-19: the 300 EUR consumption vouchers are finally here!

24 Jul 2020
Subject Tax alert
Jurisdictions Belgium

A few weeks ago, the Belgian government announced the creation of a new remunerative advantage, the so-called “consumption vouchers”. After a review by the State Council, the legislation for its implementation is finally published in the form of a Royal Decree and a Law of 15 July 2020.

Employers can now make use of this measure and can decide (until 31 December 2020) to issue consumption vouchers which will be valid until 7 June 2021. Employees will be able to spend their vouchers in 3 business sectors that have been hard-hit during the coronavirus crisis: horeca, culture and sport.

No tax and social security contributions

Just like meal vouchers and eco-vouchers, the amount granted in the form of consumption vouchers is not considered as salary and therefore exempted from tax and social security contributions if certain conditions are met:

  • The vouchers cannot be used to replace or to convert a part of the salary, premiums, benefits in kind or any remunerative element that the employee is already receiving. This replacement prohibition relates to all remunerative elements, regardless of whether or not they are subject to social security contributions.
  • The grant of the vouchers must be stipulated in a collective labor agreement (“CLA”) concluded at sectoral level or at company level. In case there is no sectoral CLA and a company CLA cannot be concluded (e.g. due to the absence of a union delegation), the grant of the vouchers must be formalized via an individual agreement. For public sector employers, the grant of the vouchers must be negotiated at the appropriate negotiation committee.
  • The CLA or individual agreement on the vouchers must mention the maximum nominal value of the consumption voucher, with a maximum amount of 10 euros per voucher.
  • The total value of the vouchers awarded per employee cannot exceed 300 euros.
  •  The voucher cannot be exchanged partially or totally in cash.
  • The vouchers must mention clearly that they can only be used in a limited number of sectors:
    • establishments in the horeca sector;
    • establishments in the cultural sector which are recognized, approved or subsidized by the competent authority;
    • sports associations for which there is a federation, recognized or subsidized by the Communities or belonging to one of the national federations.
  • The consumption voucher must be issued in the employee's name. This condition is deemed to be met if the granting, the number of vouchers and their amount are mentioned in the employee’s individual account. 

The vouchers can be edited by the employer itself

Contrary to eco vouchers and meal vouchers, the consumption vouchers can be issued by the employer itself, without the requirement of being a licensed issuer.

For now, the vouchers must be issued in paper form. However, legislation is currently discussed to authorize the issuance in an electronic format.

As any remunerative element, these new consumption vouchers should be awarded in compliance with the non-discrimination principle, i.e. the vouchers must be granted without distinction to all workers belonging to the same category.

EY at your disposal

Our EY teams are at your disposal to examine the feasibility of implementation of this new remunerative advantage at your company. We can also help you draft the collective or individual agreement related to the granting of these vouchers.