Earning · Uncategorized

The Belgian world of extralegal advantages: thirteen perks my company offers me

Belgium is one of the highest taxed countries in the world. But what most people don’t know is that companies have the chance to give great benefits that they get tax advantages for. Especially in IT companies go trough great lengths to convince wanted professionals to come work for them.

I am pretty open about my wage in my savings rate reports, or even how my wage grew in my yearly overview, but I am yet to report on my extralegal advantages.

Find out which ones I have, I will list them in term of popularity.

Remember I did not study IT myself, and I am a strong believer that everyone can get a high paying job in IT if they really want.

Disclaimer: this post might contain affiliate links but only of products I own and fully support.

1. End of year bonus

73% of the employees actually have an end of year bonus in Belgium. I also am lucky enough to get one.

2. Meal cheques

Meal cheques are in a way a guarantee of the government that you will not cross the border to buy food. Or maybe its a way to make sure you spend at least part of your wage on food? I don’t always understand some of these tax benefits, but I do get these as well. I get one meal cheque per worked day valued at 6.91 EUR.

3. Hospitalization insurance

I have a decent enough hospitalization insurance trough my work with DKV. Its not the very best one out-there, for example it will only pay for a hospital bed in a shared room, however it does pay for almost anything apart from that.

4. 13th month

I also get a 13th month or a holiday bonus. It usually comes around May and it is supposed to be some extra money you can spend during your holiday. You worked hard for an entire year so you earned a vacation right.

5. Group-insurance (pension saving plan)

Now we are arriving with the less and less common perks. Only 53% of the employees actually get this perk. Not only do I have a group insurance, my employer also contributes 6.3% to that every year. Thats quite high! I have not heard of any companies giving more so far.

Should I do sooner then this insurance also acts as a life insurance for my relatives.

You can see this group insurance as part of my portfolio update.

6. Paying back work-home traffic

I never considered that this should not be paid back, but in the last 5 years I have probably not spend one euro to get to a customer. Be it by car, taxi, plane, bus, tram, subway, (high speed) train or even renting a bicycle, I expensed all those and basically any kind of transport I had to take to get the job done. The only thing I did not expense yet is my shoes!

7. Laptop

I do get a laptop from work. I no longer have a PC or laptop of my own. I was probably still a student when I bought my last PC. The fun part of a laptop from work is that you get a new one every 4 years. That is usually the time it starts to get a little bit slower.

8. Smartphone

I am also entitled to a phone from work. However I have the choice between a smartphone that my work selects, or they contribute 300 EUR to whatever phone you decide to buy. But if you choose that and it breaks you need to pay for a new one yourself.

I have been with OnePlus for a few years now, so I decided to get my job contribute 300 EUR for my OnePlus 6. The phone is almost three years old now and that gives me the right to buy a new one, although I see no reason for that just yet. The phone is great and I love it.

I dropped it a ton of times and after 3 years I still notice no delays in using my phone (as you have with some other high-end phones). Click the image bellow to check out the OnePlus 7.

The reason I chose the OnePlus 6 was: fast charging, great camera, but most of all dual sim. Something you don’t have with iPhone for example. Being on the road so much for work having a dual sim is really so convenient. I just couldn’t go without it anymore.

9. Company car

41% of the Belgians have a company car. While is bellow average, I still think 41% is quite high! For those who read my may update they have read that I had to order a new car this month.

I had to select a car that can be withdrawn at least 65% of taxes and has less then 119g CO2 exhaust. I long wanted to get an SUV but the CO2 limitations also limited my choices. I was happy to see there are still some manufacturers who create SUVs with limited CO2.

Lucky I did not had to worry much about all this because I got access to a very convenient tool that contained a list of all the cars that fell in my budget.

After a successful test drive I decided to configure a BMW X1 with a CO2 exhaust of 109. I must say compared to my first company car about 10 years ago, things have gotten a lot easier. In no time I was able to select the best car and the best options tailored for me. One of the options I particularly longed for was getting a tow-bar. As my most loyal readers know I mountainbike and right now I always put my mountainbike in my car. Not very convenient or clean.

I decided on the following options:

  • Color metalic grey (like on the photo bellow)
  • Automatic Gears (no stick and this will be my first time…)
  • Leatherlook seats
  • Park Distance Control
  • Park Assist
  • Tow-bar
  • Electric outside mirrors
  • Heated front Seats
  • Remote Services (so you have access to your car from your phone)
  • Navigation/GPS + Real time traffic information
  • Bigger fuel tank
  • Airconditioning
  • Cruise control

It felt a little bit like shopping in a candy store.

I could also see in the tool that I would need to pay about 200 EUR monthly to the state for this car. But this would come from my Brutto wage so it would cost me less then 100 EUR in the end.

After saving my configuration, I was able to send it to HR that ordered the car. Delivery times where huge but now that I have it I am extremely happy with it.

The BMW X1

9. Expense reimbursment

Strangely enough companies also have the ability to offer a NET expense reimbursement for any additional costs you would need to make for your work. For me this is about 180 EUR per month. Its also one of the less common perks. Only 34% of the employees get this perk.

10. Additional bonuses for travelling

I also get additional bonuses for travelling. I get a daily and a quarterly bonus. For the quarterly bonus I need to have traveled at least 50% of my time. While these are very appealing and quite high, I must say it does come with a personal sacrifice as well. Being away from home 50% of your time is really quite high. You have the chance to get new experiences, but you also miss some you can do at home.

My daily allowance is not taxed as its meant for food expenses abroad. My quarterly bonus is taxed like normal wage.

Don’t get me wrong, I prefer to stay in Belgium actually, but if I do travel (when Corona allows it), I am happy to get this bonus. Without it I probably would be much less eager to travel so often.

11. Yearly bonus

I am also entitled to a yearly bonus. This bonus depends on how much billable time I get every year. Billable time is something my company can charge to the customer. My target is usually to be billable for about 70% of my time. I usually am closer to 100% then 70%. By receiving the bonus under the form of warrants I am taxed a bit lower on this bonus then on my regular wage.

12. Possibility to working at home

While it does not come with any perks, and might actually cost you money on electricity and heating, I must say that the ability to work at home from time to time is quite nice.

During Corona I actually worked 100% of the time from home. I am happy to have a job that is so flexible and allows this. Emotionally it hasn’t always been easy but at the same time I am happy to be with a company that cares about their employees health.

13. Saving points for hotel & airline bookings

When I am working a lot for the same client abroad then my company sometimes books a hotel & flight for me. On some occasions I can also book this myself, allowing me to save points with various hotel chains or airlines that have a point saving program. Later I can redeem these points for travelling and stays abroad.

This has affectively allowed me to stay for free in a few amazing luxurious hotels.

Conclussion

While taxes are very high in Belgium, the state does offer options to companies that want to attract highly sought profiles. Especially in the more technical professions these perks seem to be quite common. If you want to have more perks yourself, it can’t harm to do some shopping. I think if you can find a job that pays (considerably) more you should absolutely switch.

Just remember the grass is not always greener on the other side.

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