Wealthy Belgians pretending to live in Monaco hit with €100m tax bill

Pedro Gonçalves
Wealthy Belgians pretending to live in Monaco hit with €100m tax bill

The Belgian tax authorities are demanding €100m from Belgians who merely pretended to move to Monaco in order to avoid paying tax in Belgium as it launches a tax avoidance crackdown.

The special investigations division of the Belgian tax authorities tracked down 147 wealthy Belgians, who reported they were moving to live in Monaco. However, reality shows they had only registered an address that turned out to be a hotel room or a post-box. The investigations unit considers these HNIWs guilty of domiciliation fraud, and has presented them with a bill totalling €99.6m.

The principality attracts some of Europe's most wealth as it offers and attractive tax regime, including personal income tax rated at 0%.

The newspaper revealed three taxpayers who gave the same address, which turned out to be a hotel which rented out rooms at the price of 96,600 euros a year. Another 12 gave the address of an apartment block where a simple room could be had for €3,200 a month - not intended for habitation, only for providing an official address in Monaco.

The Belgian tax authorities have also announced plans to pay special attention this year to the tax returns of residents who have bank accounts abroad.

The measure is one of a set of priorities announced which involve checking up on matters which taxpayers are supposed to declare voluntarily, whether individuals or businesses. Others include payments received from abroad, payments claimed as alimony or child support, income from properties rented out for professional ends and failing to submit a tax declaration, according to The Brussels Times.

The tax authorities suspect that around half of all residents who are subject to the Belgian tax regime and have a foreign bank account have not declared it, based on a previous audit in which it was found that of 364,000 account holders, some 200,000 had not declared it. 

The country is stepping up efforts to tackle tax evasion after journalists uncovered several schemes used by the wealthy to hide their money from the taxman.

Some of the wealthiest Belgians managed to hide money from tax authorities and justice for years with the help of Prince Henri de Croÿ's Belgian network, according to a investigation by De Tijd and L'Echo

These persons entrusted sums of up to €13m to Henri de Croÿ, who enabled them to hide their money by way of secret accounts in the UAE, the Bahamas or Puerto Rico under the name of shell companies.

He is also being investigated by French authorities, who suspect him of having helped France's wealthiest to conceal millions.  


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