NiXPS
Thursday, May 21, 2009
  In Belgium nobody can hear you scream (or can they?)

Belgium is a very small country in Western Europe, internationally it's known for its chocolate, for hosting the capital of the European Union, and having one of the most complicated, yet stable, governmental system known in the Western world.

NiXPS is located in Ghent, Belgium. In the part we call 'Flanders' (like in 'Ned', yeah ;-)).
Bruno Lowagie, the creator and head developer of iText,an open source PDF generating and manipulating library, is also a Belgian resident.
We're both located in the area of Ghent, and I think we even studied at the same university (of Ghent).
I don't know Bruno Lowagie personally, but I'm following his project because it's also software in the document space, and because it's nice to see another local having success with a software project.

Now, Bruno Lowagie is having an encounter with our notorious tax authorities. I've been bitten by them in the past too.
Of course all around the world everyone thinks they are paying too much taxes, and have a reserved attitude towards their respective taxmen. But believe me, Belgium is bad, seriously bad.

Belgium has one of of the highest corporate tax and income tax rates in the world. And a very expensive social security system which lays another large percentage of taxation. It's not unusual to pay up to 60% of your income to tax and social security payments. This is ridiculous, but on the other side there are literally thousand of ways one can apply for subsidies, apply for special reductions, get benefits, etc... to try to offset the tax burden.
As a result the taxation rules are so complex, they are published in a couple of 'yellowpages style' volumes.
You actually need professional tax and legal counsel to work your way through it, and even the tax authorities admit that. Figuratively speaking, by filling a few forms this way, and not the other way, could cost you thousands and thousands of euros.

Now the taxation officials in Belgium are really working overtime to make sure you are bombarded and taxed as much as possible by attempting to 'reclassify' and 'reinterperet' your income, and throw away business expenses, as so you pay as much taxes (and social security payments) as possible. They are also allowed to do this with your income and expenses up to 7 years back in time, so this is a very lucrative business for them, and as a result ensure you never have peace of mind.

This is the context in which you have to read this:
Bruno Lowagie had a visit from the Belgian tax authorities

I feel for him, as I've been there also, having to pay a ridiculous large sum of money that feels like the government is extorting money from you like some regular mob.
I support him in his efforts, and I think it's a nice touch to blacklist all the different Belgian government bodies from enjoying from his work.

This is a great, real-life, testament to how Belgium/Flanders treats it's innovative people.

Good luck, Bruno!
 
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