Withholding obligation social security and tax debts

Jonas Verckens   |  

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The obligation to withhold tax and social security debts from your suppliers has existed for many years. However, we have noticed that this entails certain risks, which is why we would like to bring this subject to your attention once again.

How exactly does the withholding obligation work?

Suppose you, as an entrepreneur, have to pay an invoice to a supplier in the construction sector, cleaning sector or maintenance sector. You must first check whether this supplier has paid all his tax and social security debts. If that is not the case you are obliged to withhold part of the invoice amount and to pay it to the government Finance Department or NSSO.

This obligation only exists for B2B relations. If you purchase these services as a private individual this withholding obligation does not apply. But many company directors rent part of their private home as a home office and have the cleaning costs, window cleaning, etc. invoiced to their company. Although this is in fact a private home, the withholding obligation must be applied, because in this case the customer/supplier relationship exists between two legal entities.

How do you apply the withholding obligation?

You can check whether your supplier still has unpaid tax and social security debts via the government website https://www.checkinhoudingsplicht.be . Just enter the company number and the application will automatically indicate whether there are any debts and how many outstanding debts there are. You should carry out this check when you sign a contract with your supplier, and you must repeat the check every time an invoice is issued. Handy tip: print the result of your search or save it as a pdf document so that you can prove that you have indeed checked.

If the application gives you a red light, the supplier in question has tax or social security debts. In that case, the application will immediately generate a payment link where you can transfer the amount that must be withheld  to the relevant government department.

How much must be withheld?

If the invoice amount is less than € 7,143 the normal withholding obligations apply: 15% must be withheld if it is a tax debt, or 35% if it is a social security debt.

If the invoice amount is higher than € 7,143, your supplier must provide a certificate stating the amount of tax and social security debts they have. If the debt on the certificate is less than 15% or 35% of the invoice amount you limit the amount you withhold to the amount on the certificate. If you do not withhold the relevant amount then you yourself are liable for the debts and risk getting a fine.


If you, as an entrepreneur, have transactions with the relevant sectors, it is advisable to always check the list and document your search. In this way you avoid joint and several liability and possible fines. If suppliers have payment difficulties these debts can accumulate quickly and become substantial. So be on your guard.

Ask for advice from the experts at Bofidi

Do you have questions about the withholding obligation? Our experts will be pleased to help you. Please do contact us.