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New obligations on civil-law partnerships

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If you have a civil-law partnership, you will have some new rules to comply with from 1 November. You will need to register your partnership with the Central Database for Businesses (Kruispuntbank van Ondernemingen) and you will need to comply with some accounting requirements. A quick overview.../p>

The new obligations are the result of reforms to company law. Although a civil-law partnership is not a legal entity as such, from now on it will be treated as if it were a company. A "civil-law partnership" is therefore now simply referred to as a "partnership". Three other big changes stand out:

1. Mandatory registration with the Central Database for Businesses

You must register your civil-law partnership with the Central Database for Businesses. This database of the Belgian Federal Public Service for the Economy contains all the basic information on companies. This means that some of the data on the civil-law partnership will be made public, but it is not yet clear exactly which data.

The registration requirement starts on 1 November. Partnerships that were already in operation before that date must register before 1 May 2019 via their accountant, notary or business advice centre. If you do not register the partnership, you run the risk of criminal penalties.

2. Quoting the company number on documents

All deeds, invoices, advertisements, letters and other documents issued by the partnership now have to mention:

  •  - The company number
  •  - The partnership's registered address
  •  - At least 1 partnership account number

3. Mandatory simplified accounting

Accounting is mandatory for civil partnerships since the reform. If the annual turnover is less than EUR 500,000, which is the case for most partnerships, simplified accounting is sufficient.

Simplified accounting must include:

  •  - A sales ledger (list of invoices)
  •  - A purchase book (list of expenses)
  •  - A financial and banking journal (cash transactions and bank account transactions)
  •  - An inventory book (assets, receivables, payables and commitments)

The submission and publication of annual accounts is not mandatory. You are not required to use an accountant, but it is advisable to do so in the first year. Your accountant can show you how it is done, so that you can avoid this cost in the following years. The requirement to keep accounts is not enforced by any criminal penalties.

So what exactly should I do and when?

> If you are establishing a company under ordinary civil law after 1 November 2018, the new rules will apply immediately.

> If your company was established before 1 November 2018, you will go through a transitional period:

- You will have until the end of April 2019 to register with the Central Database for Businesses.
- The accounting requirement starts from tax year 2020.

Note that the above dates may be extended by Royal Decree.

More information?

If you are not entirely sure whether these changes apply to you, seek advice from a notary or accountant.

Maureen Vanfraechem - Lawyer at Pareto nv

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