Brian Down… That’s interesting that you had an email from the Belgian Finance Ministry confirming that you don’t need to pay Belgian tax on your pre-2013 pension and that you shouldn’t receive a tax return in the future. This seems to be at odds with correspondence received by some of the contributors to this thread, some of whom have already had tax deducted from their pre-2013 Belgian pensions since January 2021. (Perhaps there has been a change of heart…)
Most of my emails to the Belgian Tax authorities remain unanswered, apart from one response which stated that: “Pursuant to article 18b of the Belgian-British Double Taxation Agreement, Belgian pensions are all taxable in Belgium, regardless of whether they were paid for the first time before or after 01.01.2013.” I have not yet had any reply to the letter I sent back with Mum’s completed tax return and Certificate of Residence (UK), setting out why she should be exempt from Belgian Tax. I don’t think that she has had tax deducted yet from her Belgian pension as the amounts paid in 2021 are similar to those paid in 2020.
Interestingly, I have just found this document via the ‘International Documents’ section on the FPS Finance website. https://www.senate.be/www/webdriver?MItabObj=pdf&MIcolObj=pdf&MInamObj=pdfid&MItypeObj=application/pdf&MIvalObj=83887326 This is a Bill, submitted to the Belgian Senate in 2011, approving the First Protocol for amendment of the 1987 UK-Belgian DTA. It provides an analysis of the technical provisions of the Protocol.
The following excerpt is from page 11 of the document, under ARTICLE XI: Pensions (translation):
“The text of Article 18 (Pensions) of the Agreement has been replaced.
Pursuant to the new Article 18, pensions and other similar remuneration (including non-periodic payments) arising from a Contracting State are, in principle, exclusively taxable in that State.
In accordance with the intention of the Belgian and British negotiators of the Protocol, pensions and other similar remuneration derive from a Contracting State when such income is paid by that State itself, one of its political subdivisions or local authorities or by a resident of that State (including a pension scheme, defined in Article 3 of the Convention, which is established in that State).
With the exception of public pensions referred to in Article 19 (Public service), paragraph 1 covers all pensions and other similar remuneration, including those which are not paid in respect of previous employment (for example, self-employed workers' pensions or a life annuity that the beneficiary would have built up directly from capital accumulated outside a work-related pension scheme).
The taxation of pensions and other similar remuneration is thus modified. At present, pensions and other similar remuneration are taxable exclusively in the beneficiary's state of residence either by virtue of article 18 or by virtue of article 22 (Other income). To avoid modifying the tax regime of persons who retired before the entry into force of this Protocol, pensions and similar remuneration paid to such persons shall continue to be taxed in their State of residence.”
Thus it seems to me that it was ALWAYS the intention of the negotiators that people who were receiving their pension (including State pensions) before the 2009 protocol came in to force (1 Jan 2013 in Belgium) should NOT have to change the way they pay tax following its introduction. For these pensioners, all pensions and similar remunerations (other than Public Service pensions) should continue to be taxed in the recipient’s country of residence.
For the Belgian tax authorities to claim that they had ‘misread’ the revised Treaty is quite mischievous. Granted, it is possible to change the meaning of a sentence with the addition or omission of a comma or two, but I think it unlikely that the protocol has been incorrectly applied for the past 8 years. The current taxation arrangements (as per HMRC guidance) are in line with the clear intentions of the negotiators set out in the Senate Bill, and I am sure that at least some of those who were responsible for implementing the revised Treaty at the time were also part of the negotiation process. Presumably Belgian residents who receive a pre-2013 state pension from the UK are treated in the same way by HMRC?