Tax burden reduction R&D programme: update notifications

Author: Peggy Criel (Legal Expert)

To be entitled to an exemption from the advance payment of withholding tax within the framework of scientific research, companies are obliged to report to BELSPO the research or development projects or programmes in which researchers are employed. BELSPO recommends employers to update the notified R & D programmes on an annual basis.

Notification requirement

R&D projects or programmes are eligible for this exemption only after notification to the Public Service for Science Policy (BELSPO). It must be demonstrated that the research and development activities are situated in the field of fundamental research, industrial research or experimental development.

In the field of research and development, a distinction is made between:

  • an R&D project, or a time-bound activity, is one in which knowledge workers are employed flexibly to effectively achieve a specific plan within a given timeframe;
  • an R&D programme: this is a continuous - structural or recurrent - R&D activity.

Content of the notification

The notification of the R&D project or programme must contain:

  • the identity of the employer;
  • the description of the project or programme showing its purpose to be fundamental research, industrial research or experimental development;
  • the scheduled starting date and expected completion date of the project or programme.

The notification must contain a formal end date for the completion of the R&D project or programme. For projects this date is usually known; for programmes this is less obvious. However, the FPS Finance also requires that an end date is given for R&D programmes.

For this reason, BELSPO recommends you to update the notified R&D programmes on an annual basis via the BELSPO electronic portal. To do so, please go to the overview list of the programmes notified for your company. Select the notified programme of 2019, press the "copy" button at the bottom of the overview window. Enter 31 December 2019 as the 2019 programme‘s end date. Enter 01 January 2020 as the newly copied 2020 programme’s start date and 31 December 2020 as its end date. In the course of 2020, changes can be made to, for example, R&D activities, staff involved and their R&D time spent.

We can help you!

If you would like more information about the exemption from the advance payment of withholding tax within the framework of scientific research or if you would like assistance with the notification of R&D projects and programmes, please contact our Legal Partners by email ( or phone (02/549.30.20).

Sources: BELSPO and message VBO-FEB.

The Partena Professional website is a channel for making information available in an understandable form to affiliated members and non-members.

Partena Professional strives to provide up-to-date information and this information is compiled with the greatest care (including in the form of Infoflashes).

However, as social and fiscal legislation is constantly changing, Partena Professional cannot accept any liability for the correctness, the up-to-date or the completeness of the information consulted or exchanged via this website.

Further provisions can be read in our general disclaimer that applies to every consultation of this website. By consulting this website, you expressly accept the provisions of this disclaimer. Partena Professional can unilaterally change the content of this disclaimer.