Mobile communications: tax and social security issues - Presentations


The tax and social security guidelines for using mobile devices (laptop, smartphone and tablet) are both complex and unclear. It is rare that the devices are used ONLY for business, and companies struggle with benefit-in-kind when they allow private usage. During this Xchange we asked experts from Deloitte and Mobistar to clarify the current and future tax and social security framework and learned how to avoid benefit-in-kind through split bill. We also got a real life example from Adecco.

The framework

We all have adopted a new way of working in which mobile device play a crucial role but the fiscal and social security regime are slowly picking up on it. For homeworking and teleworking the fiscal and social security authorities accept a lump sum compensation of 20 EUR for the usage of the employees’ internet and 20 EUR for the usage of the private PC. However instead of paying a lump sum you can also compensate the real usage (internet, pc, paper, ink,…) to calculate this, lists are available on the websites of the fiscal and social security authorities. Both or not aligned on this practice.

For the usage of corporate owned mobile device for which private usage is allowed, benefit-in-kind applies. The current amounts are high, especially for tablets and for some months new amounts are circulating. However adopting these new amounts requires a change of law (amounts can be found in the presentation of Deloitte). Furthermore the amounts that circulate, except for the PC (fixed by royal decree), one can deviate from these amounts by negotiating a ruling with the rulings commission. 

On top of that, there is the trend of moving to BYOD. With BYOD, you can compensate your employee for a certain amount, free of tax. How do you calculate this? You take the real cost of the device divided by 3 (normal period of depreciation) and then by 12 to come to the monthly compensation. This is usually free of tax however it is best to negotiate this through a ruling. Furthermore higher amounts can be obtained eg. IT staff who need more recent devices for testing applications.

A real case example

Adecco has decentralized operations and decided to roll out laptops to all staff to enhance efficiency. For branch staff, no private usage is allowed. The laptops stay at the office, they are intended to gain efficiency and this has been set out in the corporate policy. As a result for these user benefit-in-kind doesn’t apply. For more commercial profiles using laptops on the go, benefit-in-kind applies.

About 3 years ago Adecco decided to rollout BYOD for smartphones. Together with Mobistar, they developed a system where employees receive a yearly voucher allowing them to buy a new device when the existing smartphone is depreciated. In terms of security the policy foresees into password enforcement and remote swipe in case of theft or loss.

When looking at the communication cost, Adecco migrated from split billing with different lump sums according to user profile to an all-in solution. The all-in solution applies to national usage, as this applies to most of the employees. For usage abroad an international bundle can be activated in case of need for most of the employees. For frequent travellers, a limited amount of the staff, an international bundle is always activated.

Solutions provided by the operator

It is clear that pay per use, as is the case for consumers, doesn’t fit well for the B2B market. We also see that more and more staff is becoming mobile and that mobile data usage will only increase, hence the usage of bundles.

Today most companies do not apply split billing. They negotiate a bundle with the operator for a fixed amount that covers most of the usage profiles and they apply benefit-in-kind. To avoid benefit-in-kind the employer can decide not to allow private usage, which is not very common, but which exists in cases of DECT replacement. Or the employee can opt for split billing using an escape code or a fixed amount of usage. In case of the usage of an escape code, companies have said that it is complex and that it is fairly impossible to monitor. In case of invoice split with a fixed amount per employee, we see that companies opt for an all-in flat fee covering all national usage. The company decides on the amount paid by the company and the amount paid by the employee. This way benefit-in-kind is avoided. Companies however do run in to discussions of professional over usage. Important when implementing split billing based on a fixed amount is the onboarding of the employees. Providing them with sufficient information upfront avoids questions being raised upon the reception of the first invoice. Furthermore it is important to discuss use case such as travel, holidays and the use of premium calls like sms parking.

The following companies registered to participate : Adecco, Bank Degroof Banque, Barco, Base Company, BNP Paribas Fortis, Brussels Airport Company, Deloitte, Emerson Network Power, Huawei, Idewe, Ingenium, KBC Group, Mobistar, Nationale Bank van België, Nauta Dutilh, Pfizer Service Company, Proximus, Randstad Group, RTBF, Syntigo, Vanheede Environment Group, Ypto

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