10 August, 2020

Say it with consumption vouchers!

Zeg het met consumptiecheques

At the beginning of June, the Belgian government already introduced the famous 'corona consumption cheque (CCC)': a new, but one-off, method of remuneration whereby the employer can grant tax-free cheques of up to EUR 300 to his or her employees. These cheques should boost purchasing power in the sectors most affected by the Covid-19 crisis.

The legislation concerning corona consumption cheques is (almost) finished. As from 17 July 2020, employers can grant their employees these tax-free cheques up to a maximum amount of EUR 300. The cheques can only be spent in the sectors most affected by the crisis: catering, sports, culture and specific retail shops. Payflip lists the details of the scheme for you.

Which sectors does it support?

As previously communicated in the press, the Belgian government wanted to give the local catering, sports and culture sectors a helping hand here. However, the recently published legal text also mentions small businesses that (i) were obliged to close their doors for at least one month and (ii) offer goods and services in the physical presence of the consumer (e.g. hairdressers and beauty salons).

Fiscal characteristics of this CCC?

The CCC are in the same league as the well known meal vouchers and eco vouchers and are not considered as "wages" under the following, rather easy to fulfil, conditions:

- The CCC may not be granted as a substitute for wages;

- the maximum value of a single cheque is EUR 10, and the total number of cheques may not exceed EUR 300;

- The CCC may not be exchanged for money;

- the CCC is issued in the name of the employee by an authorised service provider a la Edenred, Monizze and Sodexo.

If the above conditions are met, the CCC are exempt from social security contributions and income tax for the employee. For the employer, the CCC are deductible professional costs - which is a real advantage compared to meal vouchers and eco vouchers that are not (entirely) deductible.

What is the timing of this measure?

The CCC can be awarded from 17 July to 31 December 2020. They are strictly valid until 7 June 2021, i.e. 12 months from the reopening of the catering industry on 8 June 2020. 

How to implement it practically?

Just like meal vouchers and eco vouchers, the granting of the CCC must be included in a collective labour agreement at sector or company level or, for companies without trade union representation, in an individual agreement with the employees. If not, the CCC will be considered as salary with the tax consequences.

The well-known service providers Sodexo, Edenred and Monizze are already active in processing orders for CCC.

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