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Private client attorney
Specialism: Lawyers Estate Planning
Location: Zaventem, Belgium
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Average client size: Over £25 million
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Assisting an American citizen
Mr. X is an American citizen who first approached us with questions on how to settle in Belgium. We initially assisted Mr. X in obtaining a Belgian residency permit. As Belgium does not offer investor visa’s as such, it was decided to apply for an employee visa. To this purpose, a Belgian company was set up to perform various artistic activities (Mr. X is an acclaimed artist), of which Mr. X became an employee.
The situation of Mr. X as a Belgian resident then offered additional hurdles to tackle. Indeed, Mr. X’s father had set up a US trust fund to benefit his three children, including Mr. X. This then triggered the potential application of the Cayman Tax, a – then recently introduced – type of transparent taxation for certain Belgian residents involved in foreign wealth structures, including trusts.
This provided two substantial issues. Firstly, the Cayman Tax transparently taxes Belgian residents on the income of the wealth structure, even in the absence of any actual distributions. Given the size of the trust fund, in combination with the lack of distributions, this could have resulted in hefty tax bill for Mr. X, without any cash to pay. Secondly, the trust deed contained a clause excluding any beneficiaries residing in a jurisdiction that would tax the income of the trust, which Belgium had just become under the Cayman tax.
After further analysis, however, we found that as long as the father of Mr. X (as settlor of the trust) is alive, the Cayman tax could be postponed. To support this analysis, a binding ruling was applied for with the Belgian tax administration, although before this process could be finalized, Mr. X had already decided to leave Belgium again in search of new endeavors.