A recent study by the Federal Planning Bureau points to Belgium and France as the most generous OECD countries in terms of the tax benefits granted to companies for R&D (research and development).
In Belgium, companies can benefit from an exemption of 80% on withholding tax on professional income due on the salaries of R&D personnel. Since 1 October 2005, this exemption has been available to companies that conduct research in association with a university, college or approved scientific institution, as well as to young innovative companies since 1 July 2006.
Another exemption has been granted since 1 January 2006, depending on the qualifications of the researchers, doctors of hard or applied sciences, doctors of (animal) medicine or civil engineers and to researchers holding a master's degree (except for master's degrees in social sciences and humanities) since 1 January 2007.
Since 1 January 2018, R&D personnel who have certain bachelor degrees can also benefit from a 40% exemption from withholding tax on professional income.
OTHER ADVANTAGES THROUGH CORPORATE TAX
In addition to these tax benefits based on researchers' salaries, other benefits are granted through corporate tax.
Thus, since 2007, companies have been able to choose between a tax reduction and a tax credit for R&D investments. As of 2008, they have also been able to benefit from a tax deduction on 80% of their income from patents.
In 2016, this benefit was replaced by an 85% deduction for income from innovations. This reform introduced a number of stricter conditions, in line with the OECD guidelines on tax base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS).