Not paying your taxes or child support? Customs will now be able to seize your car using ANPR cameras

For several years, customs have been using ANPR cameras, with plate recognition, during their patrols on the roads. Until now, they could only arrest you for unpaid court tickets. Excise duties or unpaid fines, for example.

Now, ANPR cameras will also allow customs to check tax offenses. The information was published by our Flemish colleagues from Newspaper a you Time. Concretely, this will concern:

  • heavy tax arrears (personal and corporate tax), short-term unpaid bills are not affected,
  • non-payment of VAT,
  • alimony in default.

The novelty is that a person who has not paid his taxes, who has a debt and who has already received multiple reminders, who has not applied for a payment plan, who finds that ‘we can’t find a way and it is insolvent, we will add it to the customs file“, specifies the spokesperson of the Federal Public Service (FPS) Finances, Florence Angelici.

The vehicle may be seized

As with non-payment of fines, customs may seize the offender’s vehicle if he does not pay. The vehicle may be sold if the arrears are not settled within ten days.

We are really going to target the most difficult profiles

The changes have not yet taken place. The spokesperson for the FPS Finance specifies that the methods for applying them have yet to be determined, and that there is no date of entry into force. “We have to discuss how we are going to do it, and especially how we are going to transmit this data to customs, and above all avoid transmitting data that is not necessary. The only information they (customs officers) will have is that there is an amount to pay“, explains Florence Angelici.

The spokesperson for the FPS Finances reassures: citizens who have simply forgotten to pay their taxes or who are slightly late will not be worried. “We are talking about people who are really unwilling to pay taxes. The measure will target people who have received numerous reminders and for whom it is found that it is almost impossible to recover the amounts“, says Florence Angelici. “We are really going to target the most difficult profiles in terms of taxes. And the goal is not to seize vehicles, the goal is for people to pay the amounts that are due“, she concludes.

We regret that there is no minimum tax debt threshold to activate this procedure.

We interviewed a specialized lawyer. “Following this novelty, the tax authorities can withdraw from circulation, and in certain cases, sell the vehicles for any tax debt, no matter how small. So this development challenges and questions the principle of proportionality. We regret that there is no minimum tax debt threshold to activate this procedure.“, reacts Grégory Homans, lawyer and managing partner of the tax law firm Dekeyser & Associates.

According to the lawyer, the information circulating tends to confirm the intentions of the FPS Finances: only very bad payers should be targeted. “Tax authorities have yet to codify concrete measures, and it is rumored that this development would only concern repeat offenders. People who have received multiple summonses“, specifies Grégory Homans.

Why this change?

These changes occur following the entry into force of a new law on July 27th. According to the Nieuwsblad, the text voted by the House of Representatives reduces the conditions to be met in order to be able to recover your seized vehicle. Previously, for example, you could recover your car after paying your unpaid fine, even if your taxes were still in default. From now on, all fines will have to be paid: legal AND tax.

The Council of State, which analyzes the legality of certain bills, had warned against the “disproportionate nature of the measure“, as the Nieuwsblad indicates. The deputies however voted the law, considering that the taxpayer had already had the possibility of paying his debt before.

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