The Antwerp Tax Academy also conducts research in commission and on behalf of several governments and governmental bodies. Below, you can find an overview of several of these projects.

Project RESONANCE*: Developing 'fair governance', a new interdisciplinary psycho-legal research approach to assessing public algorithm-supported decision-making *faiRnEss Self-determination gOverNAN.

This research is funded by the Fund for Scientific Research of the Flemish government and is conducted by dr. Anouk Decuypere, under the promotership of prof. dr . Anne Van de Vijver (promotor) and prof . dr. Stéphanie De Somer (co-promotor). Duration: 01/01/2023 - 31/12/2026

In this fourth digital revolution, we are becoming increasingly dependent on algorithms for decision-making. Governments are key players in this market, as they are both users of these digital technologies and responsible for regulating their use. In practice, tax authorities already use predictive algorithms for tax audit. However, these automated decisions can have a substantial impact on citizens. Unregulated use can threaten legal principles and psychological needs, such as the right to a human-in-the-loop, the right to privacy and transparency, as well as the psychological need for autonomy and justice. To assess current and future government practices on the use of algorithms for their legal validity and possible psychological effects, we propose a new interdisciplinary research lens, namely "fair governance". This lens brings together theories on psychological needs, justice and good governance. This will allow us to explore and prevent the negative effects of digital decision-making, both through theoretical and empirical research (gauging citizens' perceptions). This research will help inform policies to future-proof public decision-making, both in terms of regulatory initiatives and protocols to improve human-machine interaction in the workplace.

A modern, operational and effective customs sanction investigation and enforcement system. Conclusions and recommendations

By order of the European Commission Antwerp Tax Academy provided scientific expertise in supporting the reform and modernisation of customs law in Luxembourg and Belgium as regards sanctions, penalties and related enforcement measures.

In an initial phase a stock-taking and a reform need assessment was drafted based on a legal-analytical method and on interviews with legal practitioners on the field. Then a comparative analysis was made referring to the legislation an optionally practices in the Netherlands, Germany and France. After all a final tailor-made report was presented with conclusions and recommendations to be set up in Luxembourg as well as Belgium.

The research was conducted under the scientific direction of prof. Eric Van Dooren and was co-ordinated by prof. dr. Bruno Peeters. The research team further consisted of Erhard Vermeulen, Jesse De Bruyn en Katleen Joostens.

Erasmus+ project

The title of this research project: 'Fostering learner-centered education in the field of taxation’ .

The aim of this project is to explore the impact of taxes on entrepreneurial risk taking. In doing so, a theoretical model will be developed covering the main elements of the tax systems in selected European countries. This model serves as a theoretical workhorse which allows an analysis of the economic impact of the BEPS initiative and the ATAD against the background of the respective national tax systems. In doing so, the introduction of the ACE in Belgium will be used to explore the behavioral responses of the entrepreneurs. As it is assumed that the entrepreneurs have heterogeneous preferences concerning the trade-off between risk and return, a variety of behavioral responses can be explained. These behavioural responses in turn will then be used to model the behavioural responses from other policy measures that affect the risk-return trade-off. As the model covers the main tax characteristics of countries, it can be used to discuss country-specific impacts of policy measures in those countries.

This research was conducted under the direction of prof. dr. Marc Deloof. 

In that context, a paper with the title: 'The effect of a tax allowance for corporate equity on firm risk taking and income shifting' is currently being worked on by Marc Deloof (University of Antwerp) and Tanja Krin (University of Liechtenstein). 
 
We investigate how the introduction of a tax allowance for corporate equity (ACE) in Belgium affected firm risk taking and income shifting in business groups. The ACE led to a reduction in financial leverage, which may have induced firms to take more operational risk. However, we find a significant decline in income volatility after the ACE introduction in 2006, which is consistent with the hypothesis that Belgian firms reduced corporate risk taking to maximize the ACE tax benefit. A difference-in-difference analysis suggests that this reduction was driven by income shifting within business groups. The post-2006 reduction in income volatility was stronger for firms with a foreign corporate owner and for highly integrated group firms. After the ACE introduction, intragroup receivables strongly increased and they were associated with a stronger decline in sales volatility, short-term debt and non-debt liabilities. While debt overall decreased, intragroup liabilities increased. Belgian firms paid substantially less taxes after 2006, but we find no evidence that the decrease in the effective tax rate was stronger for firms with a foreign corporate owner.  

Legal options to make Flemish taxation more neutral regarding forms of cohabitation

Social reality has shown a shift in cohabitation forms. Affective cohabitation forms such as marriage or the 'legal cohabitation' has been complemented by alternative, more practically induced forms of cohabitation, such as cohousing.

ATA has first identified the tax issues to which the different forms of cohabitation can lead and has looked for legal options to make the existing Flemish tax legislation more cohabitation form neutral. A distinction has been made between affective and pragmatic forms of cohabitation, since both categories meet different problems and therefore require different remedies.

Personal income taxation, as well as inheritance and registration taxes are investigated. Where issues arise, solutions are sought, but always taking into consideration the regional competences. It has been safeguarded that none of the proposals (directly) resort negative budgetary effects.

More information and the research report can be found here (Dutch).

You can also find the report here.

Insurance gift

In its opinion nr. 15133 of 12 october and 30 november 2015 the Flemish Tax Services have taken the position that even after an insurance gift, there is still talk of a clause in behalf of a third party, making inheritance taxes still collectable at the time of the original insured person's death.

Some serious arguments can be brought up against this position. These arguments are being analyzed in this report, and some possible solutions are suggested.

This research has been conducted on behalf of the Flemish 'Steunpunt Fiscaliteit en Begroting 2012-2015', by prof. dr. Bruno Peeters, prof. dr. Nicole Plets and Ms. Katleen de Troeyer.

You can find the research report here.

Proposals to reform Flemish inheritance taxation

On behalf of the "steunpunt fiscaliteit en begroting" of the Flemish government, the Antwerp Tax Academy has conducted research into possible proposals to reform the Flemish inheritance taxation.

The first part of this research paper focuses on the concept of 'partner' in matters of inheritance taxation. Sociological developments like changes in cohabitation forms and legislative initiatives at different levels of government, lead to a very different interpretation of this concept. The difference between a partner relationship and other affective cohabitation forms, becomes more difficult to make. In this research paper, we describe several parameters that could be useful within the Flemish inheritance taxation to distinguish the affective relationship from other forms of cohabitation.

Next, the current tax-exemption for the surviving partner concerning his/her own dwelling, is thoroughly investigated. 

Finally, in the third part, we investigate the possibility of replacing the current splitting of the inheritance in a movable and immovable part, with a base-exemption.

You can find the research project here (Dutch).

This research has been conducted by prof. dr. Bruno Peeters, prof. dr. Nicole Plets and Kathleen de Troeyer.

Tax stimuli for household-integrated elderly care

On behalf of the "steunpunt fiscaliteit en begroting" of the Flemish government, the Antwerp Tax Academy has conducted research into possible tax stimuli in the personal income taxes to promote the intrahousehold care of elderly people. The goal of this project was to assess whether and if so, to what extent, the Flemish government - taking into account the division of powers as they stand since the Sixth State reform - can facilitate the intra-household care of elderly people within the personal income taxation.

This research has been conducted by prof. dr. Bruno Peeters, prof. dr. Nicole Plets and Rik Smet.

You can find the research report here (Dutch).