Belgian Impact Report

2 min read

Helping the health sector benefit from tax exemptions during COVID-19

Supporting our healthcare system at a crucial time

  • Hospitals and healthcare organisations are among the most resource-dependent in our society, depending on a steady stream of external supplies. With the sector under immense pressure to manage the COVID-19 crisis, their inexperience with regard to the specific knowledge and how to handle customs and VAT issues became apparent. The expertise provided by Deloitte enabled hospitals and care organisations to focus on what was most important, healthcare.

During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, they were pushed to breaking point as they faced desperate shortages of medical supplies. Scrambling to meet heightened demand for personal protective equipment, they reached out to suppliers across the globe. Recognising the growing crisis, the European Commission decided to grant the member states the possibility to issue a temporary exemption of import duties and VAT on the import of medical equipment to certain institutions. The federal government raced to address this urgent need and implemented this measure into legislation.

Despite the overwhelming healthcare concerns, some umbrella institutions found this measure too complex. Deloitte’s VAT and Customs & Global Trade team wanted to help organisations to drive up efficiencies, cut down on costs and save lives in the process.

"It’s important for organisations to be aware of government COVID-19 incentives and how to effectively apply them. Our efforts brought together teams across a diverse spectrum of expertise and supported our healthcare system at a crucial time."

Pieter Van Hoecke, Partner Deloitte Belgium

Informing clients on tax incentives

Normally, introducing new measures takes time, allowing organisations the time to prepare and adapt their processes. Given the urgency of the situation, this measure was implemented quickly, prompting Deloitte to act to support the healthcare sector. Hospitals and care organisations normally work with Belgian suppliers that handle customs and VAT matters on their behalf. With the need for supplies at an all-time high, they found themselves having to do it themselves, but lacked the experience needed. Deloitte was able to step in and take over the administrative burden, freeing the hospitals and care organisations to focus on their core business, providing healthcare.

Our team organised a series of seminars to inform CEOs, CFOs and financial representatives in the Flemish and Walloon healthcare sector of the advantages of the measure implemented by the federal government. As a result, we helped a wide range of organisations, from hospitals to the Federal Public Service of Health, to retroactively claim duty and VAT costs. In addition, appropriate processes were set up to ensure that they continued to benefit from these tax breaks in the future. In parallel to this, the team continued to inform the partners in healthcare by sharing regular updates in view of additional measures taken by the government/Belgian tax authorities.

Saving costs leads to saving lives

Beyond that, Deloitte’s dedicated team of 15 Tax and Legal professionals worked tirelessly to expedite customs office procedures, revise customs administration processes, and reached out to countless suppliers to organise the operational set-up. The best part by far was that our initiative resulted in significant savings, over thousands of euros for various healthcare establishments.

Not only did our efforts bring teams together across a diverse spectrum of expertise and regions, it greatly improved our presence and credibility in the French-speaking healthcare market. Most importantly, we relieved our healthcare system from administrative hassle at a time when it needed it, ensuring that as many people as possible get the safe care that they deserve.

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