Coronavirus: electronic consumption vouchers

Author: Anne Ghysels (Legal Expert)
Date:

In our Infoflash of 17 July 2020, we informed you about the conditions that consumption vouchers must meet in order to be exempt on social and tax level. These conditions were modified to allow the introduction of electronic consumption vouchers, which did not exist until now.

To ensure maximum clarity, our Infoflash of 17 July is cancelled and replaced by this Infoflash. You will thus have all the required social and tax exemption conditions in a single document.

Every employer can decide to grant consumption vouchers to his employees. Provided certain conditions are met, they will not be subject to social security contributions or withholding tax.

On the social level

A Royal Decree of 15 July 2020 lays down the exemption conditions on the social level. It was amended by the law of 13 July 2020. These two texts enter into force on 17 July 2020.

To be exempt from social security contributions, the consumption vouchers on paper or in electronic form must comply with the following conditions:

  • The granting of consumption vouchers must be laid down in a collective labour agreement (CLA) on sector or company level. In the absence of a trade union delegation, the granting may be governed by an individual agreement;
  • The agreement (sectoral CLA, company CLA or individual agreement) must determine the maximum nominal value of the consumption voucher, with a maximum amount of €10/consumption voucher;
  • The consumption vouchers in electronic form are deemed to have been granted to the employee at the point in time at which his consumption voucher account is credited. The consumption voucher account is a database in which a number of electronic consumption vouchers will be stored for an employee and which is managed by an authorized publisher;
  • The consumption voucher must be issued in the name of the employee. This condition is deemed to have been fulfilled if the granting and the total amount of the consumption vouchers occur in the employee’s individual account;
  • The consumption voucher on paper must mention the following:
    •  that it is valid until 7 June 2021;
    • the date on which it was issued (it may be issued until 31 December 2020);
    • that it may only be used:
      • in hospitality establishments or retail businesses which have been forced to remain closed for more than one month and which, in the physical presence of the consumer in the establishment unit, offer goods or services to the consumer and fulfil the conditions to be considered as micro-enterprises within the meaning of the former Companies Code (average annual employment of max. 10 employees, balance sheet total of max.
        € 350,000 and an annual turnover of max. € 700,000) or
      • in cultural sector establishments (recognised, approved or subsidised by the competent authority), or
      • in sports associations (for which there is a federation, recognised or subsidised by the Communities or belonging to one of the national federations).

If the consumption voucher is electronic:

    • it is valid until 7 June 2021;
    • it may be issued until 31 December 2020;
    • it may only be used in the establishments mentioned above.
  • Consumption vouchers cannot be exchanged partially or totally in cash;
  • The total amount of consumption vouchers granted by the employer may not exceed
    € 300/employee.

To be exempt from social security contributions, the electronic consumption vouchers must also comply with the following additional conditions:

  • The number of electronic consumption vouchers and their gross amount are indicated on the payslip;
  • Before using the consumption vouchers in electronic form, the employee can check the balance and the period of validity of the consumption vouchers granted to him and which have not yet been used;
  • The choice for consumption vouchers is regulated by a company CLA, possibly within the framework of a sectoral CLA. In the absence of a trade union delegation, this may be provided for by an individual agreement;
  • Electronic consumption vouchers can only be made available by an authorized publisher;
  • The use of consumption vouchers in electronic form may not entail any costs for the employee, except in the event of theft or loss under the conditions set by the sectoral or company CLA, or in the employment regulations when the choice for consumption vouchers is regulated by an individual written agreement.

The cost for the alternate format in the event of theft or loss may not exceed the nominal value of a luncheon voucher, if both electronic luncheon vouchers and electronic consumption vouchers are granted in the company. If only consumption vouchers are granted in the company, the cost may not exceed € 5.

Electronic consumption vouchers, issued by a publisher whose authorization has been withdrawn or has expired, will remain valid until the expiry date of their period of validity.

On a tax level

Consumption vouchers granted in accordance with the social security conditions referred to above are exempt from income tax.

In addition, they are a deductible professional expense for the employer if the same conditions for exemption are met.

Do you need a model of a collective or individual agreement regarding consumption vouchers? Please contact our Legal Partners via legalpartners@partena.be.

Sources: Royal Decree of 15 July 2020 inserting an article 19quinquies into the Royal Decree of 28 November 1969 implementing the Law of 27 June 1969 revising the Decree-Law of 28 December 1944 on social security for workers, Belgian Official Gazette, 17.07.2020; Law of 15 July 2020 containing various urgent tax provisions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic (CORONA III), Belgian Official Gazette, 23.07.2020; Law of 31 July 2020 amending various provisions with a view to the introduction of electronic consumption vouchers, Belgian Official Gazette, 17.08.2020.

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