Belgium witnesses a new emigration tendency. Over the last few years, an increasing number of rich Belgian citizens decided to leave the country and relocate to more tax-friendly jurisdictions, such as Switzerland and Luxembourg. According to the Belgian Federal Public Service of the Interior, more than 22.000 Belgians reside in Switzerland. The reported number has increased by 10% since 2014.

Reasons

Although the reasons for the aforementioned trend are not officially known, the Belgian tax regime may be one of the underlying factors that motivates wealthy Belgians to relocate to Switzerland. Belgium’s tax burden is one of the heaviest in Europe. High net worth individuals may need to pay 50% of their income to the government.

Switzerland, on the other hand, has more favorable tax system. Moreover, Switzerland offers an exceptionally high living standard, secure cities, good schools, and an advanced heath care system. Due to its excellent business and social environment,Switzerland attracts a large number of foreigners. The Alpine country has one of the highest percentage (more 23% in 2012) of foreign-born residents in the world.

Not only individuals but also an increasing number of Belgian companies choose to relocate to low tax jurisdictions in order to decrease their tax burden and avoid fiscal uncertainty. By way of illustration, the withholding tax rate in Belgium has increased by 15% in the last few years.

The richest Belgian also moves to Switzerland

Belgian media has officially announced that the richest Belgian, Alexandre Van Damme, has also physically moved to his villa near the Swiss capital Geneva and transferred his domicile to Switzerland.For work purposes, Van Damme(a shareholder of the beer giant AB InBev) regularly commutes to Brussels with his private jet. Belgian economist Geert Noels stated in a Tweet that the government is going to lose EUR 70 million as a result of Van Damme’s relocation.

European trend

The relocation trend has been observed not only in Belgium. Millionaires from other European countries, including France, Italy, and Spain, massively move to Switzerland, often referred to as a “safe harbor”. As a result of the so-called “millionaire escape”, the number of millionaires in Switzerland has increased by 500 in the last one