Salaries, rents and the cost of beer: Changes in 2018

Summary

Many new regulations came into force on 1 January, including employees seeing a cost-of-living pay rise

Flexi-jobs now in retail

Employees working for a Belgian company will see their monthly take-home pay increase by up to €45 this month as part of the ongoing “tax shift” fiscal reform introduced last year. That’s just one of the many changes that came into force at the new year.

“Flexi-jobs”, meanwhile, have been extended from the hospitality industry to retail. These part-time jobs are tax free for workers provided they work at least 80% of full time elsewhere.

New measures aimed at stopping discrimination in employment have also come into force. Federal inspectors will send fake CVs in response to job ads to see how employers respond to applicants from different ethnic backgrounds.

The provisional social charges paid by self-employed people on a quarterly basis will be adapted to better reflect actual incomes. There will now be six different income thresholds, with different payment rates for each.

The tax-free allowance on interest from Belgian regulated savings accounts is halved from €1,880 to €940. If you earn more than €940 a year in interest, you'll be taxed on it at 15%.

Brussels goes low emission

The Brussels-Capital Region has become a low-emissions zone, with a ban on diesel cars dating from before 1997 and on-the-spot fines of up to €350. The restrictions will be gradually extended to other categories of vehicle until 2025, with 90 cameras set up around the region to scan number plates.

Brussels has also adopted new regulations aimed at making the region’s rental market more transparent. Among the changes is a new document setting out the legal obligations of tenants and landlords, including who is responsible for specific types of repair work. 

Beer and doc more expensive

GPs can increase their fees by 1.5% if they wish, meaning they can now bill up to €25.42 for a consultation.

New regulations governing premium-rate phone numbers (starting with 070 or 090) should make it easier for consumers to contest an amount on their phone bill, alert phone operators to scams and seek a refund.

Drinking an AB InBev beer – such as Leffe, Jupiler or Stella Artois – will cost you on average 3% more.