As far back as last summer, we looked at the prevailing discussion on the discriminatory aspects of the council tax on second homes. However, this year towards the end of June, a judgment was passed that rekindled the whole debate. The Court of First Instance in Bruges ruled that the different tax rates in the coastal town of De Haan were also contrary to the principle of equality.
Council tax on a second home is owed by owners of a second home if they are not registered as having their principal place of residence in that municipality. Indeed, they enjoy the same municipal amenities and facilities as permanent residents, but do not contribute through their personal income tax. In De Haan, however, there are three different rates for second homes, depending on the location of the home in the coastal town. For example, the council tax for second homes in De Haan is 650 euros in the zone closest to the coastline, 500 euros in the middle zone and finally 420 euros in the zone that is furthest away.
In its judgment at the end of June, the court of first instance in Bruges ruled that this scheme creates inequality for owners of a second home, without any reasonable justification. The court also ruled similarly regarding the environmental tax, whereby a distinction is also made between a number of different categories. Generally, a 75-euro environmental tax applies to families and owners of a second home in De Haan. For families with at least one child under 3 years of age, the tax is reduced to 50 euros.
The judgment of the Bruges court affects not only the owners of a second home in De Haan. The ruling also has precedent value for the other coastal communities that apply different tax rates depending on the location of the residence, such as Koksijde and Nieuwpoort.
On the basis of this judgment, would you like to file an objection against the tax on your second home in De Haan? Or would you like to see if there are opportunities within your municipality to go against the second home tax? Please feel free to contact your relationship manager or one of our specialists via firstname.lastname@example.org.
We base our advice on current legislation, interpretations and legal doctrine. This does not prevent the administration from being able to challenge it or to change existing interpretations.