As published on brusselstimes.com, Thursday 28 April, 2022.
The Belgian Federal Government is discussing a plan to counteract the rising cost of living. Five of the seven parties represented in the Federal Government are now in favour of taxing wealthy Belgian individuals and companies.
Energy prices continue to soar, and with Russia threatening to turn off the taps in countries other than Poland and Bulgaria, energy prices could skyrocket.
The current annual prices forecast for March stand at 1,380 euros for electricity, and 3,280 euros for gas, according to the Energy and Gas Regulatory Commission (CREG).
With the many challenges ahead, the Socialists, Greens and the conservative CD&V party see taxing the wealthiest as a way of stabilising the cost of living. “You have to go where the money is,” the parties said.
Further to this, Socialists are calling for an increase in corporation tax for the largest companies from 25% to 35%. While CD&V is aiming to tax the richest 1% of Belgians.
Tinne Van der Straeten (Groen) has long called for energy companies that make usurious profits to pay a “crisis contribution”. “They should not be allowed to get excessively rich at the expense of consumers, who are currently in financial difficulty”, says the Greens Energy Minister.
Liberal French-speaking Mouvement Réformateur strongly disagree with the proposal, saying they would ‘throw it in the bin’.
Meanwhile, Flemish liberals Open VlD are considering the bill with ‘an open mind’ if it can help the middle classes deal with the rising costs, according to Het Laatste Nieuws.
“No one has yet come up with a proposal that only hit the top 1% of the rich without hitting the middle class as well.”
Ideologically, the tax is a tough sell for parties who are still wedded to the idea of trickle-down economics, despite all the multiple and ongoing crises in Belgium and beyond.