vandelanotte advises on the formation and expansion of a doctors’ association

Testimony of a Client

Vandelanotte advises on the formation and expansion of a doctors’ association

At the GasthuisZusters Antwerpen (GZA) hospitals, 13 doctors specialising in gastrointestinal diseases are active on 3 campuses: Saint Augustine in Wilrijk, Sint-Jozef in Mortsel and Sint-Vincentius in Antwerp. They work together in an association, with the cvba Gastrokliniek as a legal basis. "You need to give a 'body' to an association, which isn't something that works automatically. As a group you can work well together if you provide a good legal foundation for this. Vandelanotte has sufficient scale and know-how to provide us with fiscal and financial support and advice," says gastroenterologist Dr Bart De Schepper.

Dr Bart De Schepper started out in 1984 in a partnership with another doctor. In the years that followed, more doctors were systematically added through links with other campuses. In the 1990s the first basis was laid for a legal foundation with a VOF (Belgian general partnership) with 2 doctors, which was later converted to a co-operative unlimited liability company (CVBA). In April 2016, the association with 5 extra members grew to the current group of 13 doctors. Right away, there was a reason to set up a new CVBA.

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Doctor association is SME

"We are actually an SME, which has personnel and costs and makes a profit," says Dr De Schepper. "That legal foundation is important. Today we see how the tax authorities are causing problems for partnerships in hospitals. The difference is that we have one legal entity with the CVBA, in which medicine is practised. All the doctors within the association are self-employed. Our fees - paid by the patients, with or without third-party payment scheme via the health insurance - are collected by the hospital, but according to the law, they belong to us. We have an arrangement with the hospital to reimburse the costs of our activities, and of course we also have to bear our own costs for our private practices outside the hospital itself. The balance is our profit, which is divided among the partners. A big difference between us and a company is that we are currently not liable for VAT, except for our participation in scientific studies."

More than just accounting

"I had an accountant from the first day, and due to a personal connection with Vandelanotte senior, choosing Vandelanotte was a no-brainer. Accounting and taxation is still the first and most important issue today, but when the company was set up, we needed separate legal advice. Not only did various contracts have to be drawn up, but also statutes and internal regulations. Since Vandelanotte already has a number of medical groups as clients, they played an important role for us there."

We have to work far too hard to risk adventures. Bart De Schepper , gastroenterologist

myVandelanotte provides a better and faster overview

"Now that the expansion of the group and the establishment of the new CVBA has been completed, Vandelanotte is once again focusing mainly on the tax aspects. They take care of the accounting and do the settlements between the doctors themselves. We feel that the digitisation that has been carried out in recent years is necessary and positive. Instead of bringing our shoe box with papers at the end of the year, we now scan the invoices and load them online in our own file in myVandelanotte. The electronic mailbox is the easiest way for us to work. By passing everything on in time, we also have a good view of our costs and expenses. We have agreed that we get an overview twice a year. We also have regular personal contact with Jan Van Gils of the Antwerp office for an extensive state of play." 

Clear and correct advice ensures peace and quiet

"From the moment that the Order of doctors and hospitals allowed doctors to set up a company, we did so ourselves. Of course, fiscal optimisation plays a role in this, but Vandelanotte is a cautious and reliable partner in this area. Other tax constructions may be possible, but there's a greater chance that the tax authorities won't accept these, and you'll suddenly receive large tax assessments. That would give me sleepless nights. I like not having to put up with that, that we can count on the knowledge and skills of Vandelanotte. We have to work far too hard to risk adventures.”

A single accountant is not an option

"Due to the size of our SME, single accountant wouldn't be an option. However, Vandelanotte does have sufficient scale, which gives them knowledge about specialised activities like ours, and means that they have the right specialists for every question. In addition, they communicate clearly and openly. I've never seen a reason to change in all these years," concludes Dr Bart De Schepper.

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In our opinions, we rely on current legislation, interpretations and legal doctrine. This does not prevent the administration from disputing them or from changing existing interpretations.

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