Unformatted text preview: lso reduced the number of brackets to which the rates applied and it created a new category of persons for “legal cohabitants,” while the
“uncles-nephews” category was combined with the “other persons” category. Furthermore, in the case of lineal heirs and spouses, a distinction was
made between the deceased’s movable and real property. As for the brackets and categories of persons, the recourse was rejected, as the court
maintained that the provisions in the decree being challenged did not affect the composition and the rules governing the evaluation of the total estate.
The deliberations preceding the elaboration of the special financing act reveal that by ascribing to the federal government the authority to set the tax
base, the framers of the special legislation wished solely to maintain a uniform method of evaluating the property in an estate, both in terms of assets
and liabilities (Doc. Parl., Chambre, 1998-1999, n° 635/18, page 275). However, the court did not express an opinion on the distinction between
movable and real property, since it maintained that this provision had neither been introduced nor amended by the decree subject to the recourse, but
stemmed from an earlier decree (see decision No. 82/99 of July 15, 1999 of the court of arbitration). 209 Commission on Fiscal Imbalance The federal government exercised complete jurisdiction over registration fees on the transfer for payment of real
property. In addition, only 41.408% of revenues from such fees were earmarked for the regions. However, the regions
were authorized to collect piggyback taxes or to grant refunds of this tax as long as the entire amount of the tax was not
allocated to them. This possibility has never been put into practice.
Although the road fund tax on automobiles appeared under “regional taxes,” it presented none of the characteristics of a
regional tax. The federal government set the tax base, tax rate and exemptions. Moreover, revenues from the tax were
part of federal government revenues,50 which means that it could be deemed a de facto federal tax.
As for taxes similar to excise taxes that are levied on a consumer product because of the nuisance it is reputed to
engender, also called ecotaxes, it was the federal government that establishes the tax base, the tax rate and tax
exemptions. Revenues from ecotaxes, which should have been apportioned among the regions, also went to the federal
government. The special financing act stipulated that the minister of finance and the regional governments must
conclude an agreement to determine collection costs.51 Until 2001, no agreement had been reached (the federal
government maintained that the collection of the ecotaxes cost it too much in relation to the revenues collected). For this
reason, revenues from the ecotaxes have never been returned to the regions.
With the exception of the ecotaxes, the federal government collected without charge the regional taxes on behalf of the
regions, which could resume collection at their expense, solely in the case of taxes all revenues from which are allocated
to them.52 Only the Flemish region has availed itself of this possibility and assumed the collection of the real estate tax
starting in 1999.53 4.1.2. Use of this autonomy in the past This section focuses on the use to which the regions have put the fiscal autonomy granted to them since 1989. For this
reason, the road fund tax on automobiles and the ecotaxes, over which the regions have n...
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