Katia Delfin Diaz is the Managing Director of Brussels-based OmniVAT Consulting. She has been passionate about Tax Law for years and her current role is to assist Belgian and foreign companies to be in line with this complex matter or to optimise the impact of VAT in their business. After working for a few of the Big Four companies, Katia started her own consultancy firm, specialising in VAT, in January 2011. Today, OmniVAT Consulting assists clients from a wide range of sectors in Belgium and across Europe. Finance Monthly speaks with Katia about VAT trends and her tips for effective VAT management.
As an expert with 24 years of experience in VAT matters, what are your recommendations for successful management of VAT?
The best piece of advice that I could give is to be up-to-date with this complex and ever-changing matter. VAT regulations evolve quickly and some updates are absolutely necessary. A good VAT manager must follow the evolution of VAT, both on national and European level. It is crucial for companies to be aware of future changes of regulations and laws, in order to amend their internal processes accordingly.
Considering that VAT is a European tax, I recommend following the European Jurisprudence that offers a respectable interpretation of the law through the ECJ cases.
In addition to OmniVAT Consulting, we also organise regular seminars through our VAT Academy. The aim is to update practitioners on direct and indirect tax laws, customs matters and Incoterms. The main sessions are French, but we also organise intra-company seminars in English, Dutch and Spanish upon request.
Can you update us on any recent or upcoming updates or changes to VAT rules in Belgium?
This year has been eventful in terms of VAT updates in Belgium. In addition to some slight amendments to the VAT legislation, a few administrative decisions and VAT notes were published in order to help individuals and companies interpret and apply VAT legislation.
One interesting Belgian decision, published this autumn, concerns the application of the VAT exemption on “claims settlement services” rendered by a third party in the name and on behalf of an insurance company. This decision was taken by the Belgian Tax Authorities after the ECJ Court made their decision on the Aspiro case (see C-40/15 arrest dated 17 March 2017).
As of 1st January 2018, the Belgian point of view will follow the conclusion of the ECJ Court – “claims settlement services” made by a subscribing agent in the name and on behalf of a counterparty (insurance company, other subscribing agent, etc.) will have to be subjected to the standard rate of VAT, provided that these are not part of the integrated services. Indeed, Belgian Authorities accepted that the VAT exemption was applied for this kind of services. Furthermore, a transitional period is planned to allow the sector to adapt to the VAT treatment of these services.
The Belgian Tax Authorities underlined that when an individual claim occurs, for example, after 31st December 2017, its assignment to a claims manager will not be exempt from VAT anymore.
What are OmniVAT’s mission and key priorities towards its clients?
Typically, clients come to us when they face a VAT problem within the company or during a VAT inspection. Clients also reach out to us when they need a VAT audit of their transactions or when they would like to receive a confirmation of the VAT treatment on a new sales scheme. The optimisation of VAT transactions is an important concern of our clients. They may also have questions on customs regulation or on Incoterms.
Our key priority is the satisfaction of our clients and we do our best to serve them the best way possible. We keep them informed on important VAT changes and we do our best to keep on top of their needs or questions. I’d say that good communication is essential for a successful relationship with customers.