Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) COVID

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) COVID

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted all Brussels-based organisations, including international associations. Besides membership or governance matters, the office, staff and local operations have been deeply affected by the situation.

At visit.brussels, we are focused on providing assistance in these difficult times and, in addition to various activities, we aim to assist associations in Belgium by providing you with all relevant economic information.

For further practical in-depth information, please contact the FAIB (AISBL’s Belgian Federation) and the 1819 helpdesk of hub.brussels.

  • What are the urgent economic measures taken by the city, the region and the state applicable to AISBLs (international non-profit organisations)?

    1. Can AISBLs benefit from the state’s guarantee for bank loans?
    2. Do AISBLs have a right to a delay in payment of the payroll tax?
    3. Do measures against bankruptcy of AISBLs exist?
    4. Do AISBLs have the right to a delay in payment of the VAT?
    5. Do AISBLs have the right to interruption of a mortgage loan?
    6. Do AISBLs have the right to the exceptional lump sum premium of €4,000? Under which conditions?
    7. Can AISBLs apply for exceptional funds from the Wallonia-Brussels Federation? If so, how?
    8. Can AISBLs benefit from extensions of terms of payments?
    9. Can AISBLs benefit from reductions/exoneration of rental fees?
    10. Is temporary unemployment applicable to AISBLs?
    11. Is the replacement income extended to AISBLs?
    12. Do AISBLs have access to the CEd - Centre pour Entreprises en difficulté (Centre for Companies in Difficulties), especially for their legal and accounting services?
    13. Do AISBLs have the right to tax reductions?
    14. Are AISBLs entitled to a staggered payment of "ONSS" contributions and employer charges?
    15. Do certain non-market sectors benefit from additional subsidies (example: culture, social, education)?

    1. Can AISBLs benefit from the state’s guarantee for bank loans?

    The Belgian government has approved a system whereby the state acts as guarantor towards the relevant banks for all new loans and credit lines (excluding refinancing credits) having a maximum duration of 12 months that Belgian banks granted to associations from 1 April 2020 until 30 September 2020.
    Do not fall within the scope of this measure:

    • Refinancing and renewals of existing credits before 1 April 2020;
    • financial leases;
    • factoring contracts;
    • consumer loans;
    • loans and credits that the relevant bank chooses to exclude from the guarantee scheme; and
    • loans exclusively used to finance the association’s activities abroad.

    Specific limitations as to the amount of the state guarantee apply and should be checked on a case by case basis.
    Request for this guarantee must be addressed by the association directly to the relevant bank.
    Only associations (ASBLs or AISBLs) which comply with the following requirements may benefit from this state guarantee system:

    • Associations which have fewer than 250 workers; and
    • which meet the following requirements: a) their annual turnover does not exceed €50 million; and/or b) their annual balance sheet total does not exceed 43 million euros .

    Are excluded and therefore cannot benefit from this state guarantee the associations which:

    • were in a insolvency procedure as at 31 December 2019;
    • have outstanding payments towards their bank in respect of existing loans or towards the tax social security authorities; or
    • were undergoing a banking restructuring of their existing credits as at 31 January 2020.

    Source:

    2. Do AISBLs have a right to a delay in payment of the payroll tax?

    Yes, non-profit organisations can benefit from a delay for the payment of the payroll tax.
    The delay is automatically granted.
    The payment of the payroll tax related to April 2020 is postponed to 15 July 2020.

    Source:

    3. Do measures against bankruptcy of AISBLs exist?

    Yes, however, the applicability of this measure expired on 17 June 2020.

    Associations (ASBLs or AISBLs) heavily impacted by the COVID-19 crisis or its consequences are covered by the provisions of Royal Decree n°15 concerning a grace period for enforcement and other measures against undertakings and for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis.
    Royal Decree No. 15 provides that even if the relevant association fulfils the criteria to file for bankruptcy, the directors, provided that certain criteria are met, do not have an obligation to file for bankruptcy.
    Similar provisions apply in cases of winding-up or judicial reorganisations of associations.
    In addition to the above, a series of measures applied to associations that were late with payments.

    Even though the provisions of Royal Decree N. 15 have expired, it is useful to mention the following:

    • Suspect period: if an association declares bankruptcy, special creditors’ protection rules as to the possible revocation of security interests granted by the association or other facilitations obtained before the 17 June 2020 will not apply. 
    • Protection against attachments: attachment of goods of the association for unpaid debts could not be carried out from 24 April 2020 to 17 June 2020.
    • Protection against early termination of existing contracts: except within the framework of employment contracts, if the association was in breach of its payment obligations during the period mentioned-above, third parties could not unilaterally terminate contracts concluded with the association before 24 April 2020.

    Source:  

    4. Do AISBLs have the right to a delay in payment of the VAT?

    There were general extensions of the filing and payment deadlines for the VAT returns of February, March, April and Q1 2020, and accelerated VAT refunds. However, these measures ended with the VAT return of May 2020. As from May 2020 the regular filling and payment deadlines have to be considered by all taxpayers.
    Some initiatives remain in force till the end of the year 2020, such as reduced VAT rates on surgical masks and hydro-alcoholic gels (exemption till 31 July; 6% VAT from 1 August till 31 December).

    Source:

    5. Do AISBLs have the right to interruption of a mortgage loan?

    No.

    The Belgian measures applicable to an interruption of mortgage loans are only applicable to individuals and not to companies or associations. Similar measures for associations are however available and are explained under question 8 below.
    Indeed, on 31 March 2020, the Belgian Federal Finance Minister signed two Charters with Febelfin, the official Belgian federation of the financial sector, and the national Bank of Belgium, one applicable to individuals (the Charter concerning the deferment of mortgage loan payments) and one applicable to enterprises, including associations (see question 8 here below).

    Source:

    6. Do AISBLs have the right to the exceptional lump sum premium of €4,000? Under which conditions?

    The deadline for submitting an application for the premium of €4,000 (available for entities with activities limited to certain NACE codes, e.g. hospitality) was 1 June 2020 and only available to entities with an economical and commercial business purpose.

       Source:

    In case they did not benefit from the lump sum premium of €4,000 from the Brussels-Capital Region or another region, certain non-profit organisations can apply for a compensation premium of €2,000 under certain conditions until 30 June 2020:

    • The association employs maximum 5 FTE and had at least one operational unit in Brussels on 18 March 2020
    • The majority of employees was temporarily unemployed due to the COVID-19 crisis (which implicitly means they need to have at least 1 employee on the payroll)
    • The association has an economical and commercial business purpose
    • During this and the two previous taxable years, the association did not receive more than €200,000 de minimis-support

        Source:

    7. Can AISBLs apply for exceptional funds from the Wallonia-Brussels Federation? If so, how?

    The Wallonia-Brussels Federation has set up an emergency fund for the cultural and sports sectors suffering from the COVID-19 crisis.
    To apply for the subventions of the emergency funds, legal entities have to fulfil certain conditions specific to the sector concerned (sport/cultural sector).

    Source:

    8. Can AISBLs benefit from extensions of terms of payments?

    No legislative measures have been approved in this respect.
    However, on 31 March 2020, the Belgian Federal Finance Minister signed a Charter with Febelfin, the official Belgian federation of the financial sector, and the national Bank of Belgium relating to the extensions of terms of payment granted by banks to enterprises, including associations.
    This Charter is applied on a voluntary basis by banks which are not bound by the terms of this Charter.

    The Charter provides that associations may benefit from extensions of terms of principal repayments provided that they fulfil all the following requirements:

    • Their registered office is established in Belgium.
    • The association has no outstanding payments for ongoing credits, taxes or social security contributions as at 1 February 2020; or was less than 30 days late in paying its outstanding ongoing credits, taxes or social security contributions as at 29 February 2020.
    • The association has fulfilled all its contractual credit obligations with all banks during the last 12 months prior to 31 January 2020 and is not, as at 31 January 2020, in the process of active credit restructuring.

    A payment deferral can be requested for one of the following loans:

    • Credits with a fixed repayment plan,
    • cash credits,
    • fixed advances.

    Leasing and factoring are not covered by the Charter.
    Requests for deferral can be submitted for up to six months, from 1 April 2020 until 31 October 2020 included.
    Payment deferrals can only be obtained for future monthly instalments. Retroactivity on the amounts debited is not possible.
    At the end of the deferral period, payments will resume. The duration of the credit will be extended by the duration of the deferral (6 months maximum, but may be shorter).
    Interests keep running during the referral, therefore, at the end of the deferral period, higher interests will be due than if it ended at the original term.

    Source:

    9. Can AISBLs benefit from reductions/exoneration of rental fees?

    There is no specific measure taken by the government applying to associations in this respect.
    Depending on the relevant contractual arrangements and the reasons for the non-payment of rental fees associations might be afforded some defence based on general principles of Belgian law, such as principles of force majeure.

    10. Is temporary unemployment applicable to AISBLs?

    Yes, in principle, temporary unemployment based on ‘force majeure’ is applicable to the employees of a non-profit organisation, to the extent that the private sector regulations are applicable and that the employees are bound through an employment agreement.

    In principle, the employees who are placed under the system of temporary unemployment receive a replacement income from the Belgian authorities amounting to 70% of the average capped salary; the maximum capped salary amounts to €2,754.76 per month.

    Source:

    11. Is the replacement income extended to AISBLs?

    No, the replacement income (also called “transitional rights” or “bridging allowance”) is only applicable to self-employed persons (main occupation or secondary occupation) who are a natural person.

    Source:

    12. Do AISBLs have access to the CEd - Centre pour Entreprises en difficulté (Centre for Companies in Difficulties), especially for their legal and accounting services?

    Yes. The Centre for Companies in difficulties is open to any association requesting first advice on credit facilities, accountancy and legal matters. The centre also offers coaching and strategic advice.
    An appointment can usually be booked with the centre, but due to the coronavirus situation, the centre can currently be contacted by phone.

    Here is the link to the centre: https://www.beci.be/solutions/centre-des-entreprises-en-difficulte/

    13. Do AISBLs have the right to tax reductions?

    In principle, there are no tax reductions available to non-profit organisations. Legal entities subject to corporate income tax and not to legal entity tax can, under certain conditions, benefit from a carry-back of tax losses (estimated for assessment year 2021) in assessment year 2020.

    Source:

    14. Are AISBLs entitled to a staggered payment of "ONSS" contributions and employer charges?

    Non-profit organisations can benefit from a delay for the payments related to social security contributions. For businesses obliged to close down following the corona measures, an automatic delay of payment is granted.
    In case the business was not obliged to close but still decided to do so, a motivated request can be filed with the Belgian social security authorities to obtain a payment delay.
    Finally, businesses which did not fully close down but are experiencing difficulties following the coronavirus crisis and see their economic activities severely reduced, can also apply to obtain a delay of payment of the Belgian social security contributions.

    Source:

    15. Do certain non-market sectors benefit from additional subsidies (example: culture, social, education)?

    Several sector-specific subsidies or measures have been granted by various Belgian authorities and are applicable in Brussels. Summarised below are some of the available subsidies as these are presented on publicly available sources. This list is non exhaustive and additional subsidies may exist.

    All sectors

    Cultural sector

    Sport


    Disclaimer
    The content provided in these answers is for general information only and it may not apply in a specific situation or to a specific transaction. Specific advice should always be sought before taking any action based on the information contained in this document. This information is not intended to create, nor does receipt of it constitute, an advisor (tax, legal or other advisor)-client relationship. Although visit.brussels and its Contributors have made every effort to ensure the accuracy of this document, neither visit.brussels nor the Contributors accept any responsibility for any errors or omissions contained herein or from consequences that may derive from errors, omissions, opinions or advice given in these answers. Although the information is accurate as at the date it was written, be advised that the topics covered in this document are ever-evolving and the information contained herein may not reflect current legal, tax, political or other development, case law or regulations.

    Produced by Interel teams, on behalf of visit.brussels.
    Last update : 18/06/2020