In Belgium, workers’ wages are heavily taxed. The tax rate is already rising to 40% from an annual income of 12,990€ and quickly rises to 50% afterwards. This is why many employers are looking for lower-taxed alternatives for both their company and their employees.

We begin this series of articles on alternative remunerations by cheques: meal vouchers, eco-cheques and gift vouchers.

1. Meal vouchers

Companies can offer their employees meal vouchers worth up to 8 euros per day of work and are exempt from tax withholding and social security if they meet certain conditions:

· The employer’s intervention is maximum 6.91€ per cheque

· Theemployee’s intervention is at least 1.09€ per cheque

· Can’t replace another form of compensation

· Obligation to make a collective or individual agreement

· Must be mentioned on the pay slip and be nominative

· 1 meal check per actual work day

Checks can be in paper or electronic format and must be issued by an approved organization (e.g. Edenred or restaurant tickets).

The employer can deduct 2€ per cheque. The surplus is a rejected expense. Management fees are fully deductible.

2. Ecocheques

Ecocheques must be used for the purchase of eco-friendly products or services (e.g. bicycle, plants, economic shower).

They are also exempt from tax withholding and social security if they meet the following conditions:

· Maximum250€ per year per employee

· 24-month validity

· Can’t replace another form of compensation

· Checks cannot be exchanged in cash

· Obligation to make a collective or individual agreement

· They must be nominative

Like meal vouchers, ecocheques are issued by an approved organization.

The reference period for calculating the number of ecocheques to be awarded ranges from 01/06 of year N to 31/05 of year N + 1. If the worker has not worked during the entire reference period, a pro rata is calculated. If the worker is part-time, he receives 100 euros for less than a half-time, 150 euros from a half-time, 200 euros from a 3/5th and 250 euros from a 4/5th time.

Ecocheques are not deductible for the employer.

3. Gift vouchers

The employer may award gift vouchers exempt from tax and social security contributions at certain events (e.g. marriage, birth, retirement at the pension).

Maximum amount:

· €40 for Christmas, New Year’ holidays, St. Nicholas + €40 per dependent child

· Retirement : 40 euros per year of service with a minimum of 120 euros and a maximum of 1,000 euros

· Wedding bonus: max. €245

· Honor: max. 120€/year

· Seniority bonus: max. 1 * gross monthly salary for 25-year and up to 2 * gross monthly salary for 35-year


· All employees must have the same benefit

· Delivered by an approved body

· 1-year validity

· Can’t be exchanged in cash

If all of the above conditions are met, gift vouchers are fully deductible from the employer’s income (except the seniority bonus).

The employer can also award culture or sports cheques for an amount of 100 euros per year per employee in a tax-free way. However, these are non-accepted expenses for the company.

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