Belgium-Germany-Netherlands border region calls for unified tax rules
The Belgium-Germany-Netherlands border region is asking the governments of the three countries to introduce a unified tax system for cross-border workers. In a letter to the finance ministers of all three countries, the region argues that home-based work in particular poses a problem.
The cross-border Meuse-Rhine Euroregion brings together the regions along the border. In Belgium, this includes Limburg, Liège and the East Cantons. The Euregio has sent a letter to Belgian Finance minister Vincent Van Peteghem and his counterparts in the other two countries.
Since the pandemic, homeworking has become much more established, they argue. A framework agreement has therefore been reached at the European level to harmonise social security rules. Since 1 July, agreements between countries allow up to 50 per cent teleworking without having to change social security systems. However, no such agreement has yet been reached on tax issues, which are not regulated at the EU level. Similar circumstances can therefore lead to fundamentally different taxes in border regions, Euregio argues.
"If the attractiveness of a cross-border labour market is lost, it is a great loss for both employees and employers"
"This weakens the position of workers and makes cross-border work less attractive," the letter says. "If the attractiveness of a cross-border labour market is lost, it is a great loss for both employees and employers at a time when the shortage of skilled labour is growing."
According to statistics from the Meuse-Rhine Euroregion, around 43,000 workers commuted across borders in the Belgium-Germany-Netherlands border region in 2019, just before the start of the pandemic. However, since the health crisis, homeworking has become much more common in all three countries. In more than half of Belgian companies, one or two days of homeworking per week is now the norm. In just over a quarter of companies, employees can 'telecommute' for three days or more, business magazine Trends reported in March.
The Meuse-Rhine border region is home to almost 4 million inhabitants and nearly 250,000 companies.
© BELGA PHOTO BENOIT DOPPAGNE