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Unformatted text preview: concern the regions. Nevertheless,
everyone being around the table, the Flemish negotiators took the opportunity to express their demand of increased
fiscal autonomy32. The agreement states in its fourth part: “a lump sum linear reduction of 3.2 billion BEF for 2000 on
income tax is compatible with the special financing act and is not likely to threaten the economic and monetary union.”
On June 18, 2000, the Flemish government approved in first reading a draft decree respecting a 2500-BEF tax reduction
for all taxpayers in respect of 2001 (the Dewael decree). Under the procedure imposed by section 9 of the special
financing act, the consultative committee comprising the three regional executives and the federal government met in
July in order to issue an opinion on this decree, at which time some shortcomings of the special financing act were
brought to light. In effect, some imprecisions led to diverging political claims. This explains why the consultative
committee failed to adopt a clear position and why only a political agreement such as the Sainte-Thérèse agreement
finally put an end to the debate.
The main reasons why diverging political claims appeared is, first, that interpretations of the Saint-Éloi agreement
differed. The box below reveals the origin of the polemic. This provision should have eliminated any problem concerning
the interpretation of section 9 of the special financing act and, while a text had been signed, the French and Flemish
translations could be interpreted differently. 31
32 204 This is the definition of a joint tax, section 6, §2, special financing act.
See Henry, Filleul and Pagano (2000).For a complete description of the Saint-Éloi agreement, see J. HENRY, G. FILLEUL et G. PAGANO (2000),
« L’accord institutionnel dit de la Saint-Éloi », Courrier hebdomadaire, CRISP, n°1696, Bruxelles. Commission on Fiscal Imbalance French text
Le Comité de concertation est d’avis qu’une réduction linéaire forfaitaire de 3,2 milliards pour l’année 2000 sur l’impôt
sur le revenu est compatible avec la LSF et n’est pas de nature à mettre en danger l’union économique et monétaire.
Het overleg comité is van oordeel dat lineaire, forfaitaire kortingen voor een globaal bedrag van 3,2 mld voor het jaar
2000 op de inkomstenbelasting volledig vallen binnen het toepassingsgebied van de huidige financieringswet en niet
van aard zijn de economische en monetaire unie in gevaar te brengen.
The French version of the agreement was worded ambiguously. French-speakers interpreted it as an authorization for
the regions to grant a linear tax reduction, i.e. proportionally identical for all taxpayers, in a total amount of
$3.2 billion BEF. This did not modify the progressivity of the tax and was, therefore, compatible with the special financing
act. As for the Flemish parties, this agreement authorized the regions to grant lump sum and linear tax reductions (in the
Dutch text the words are in the plural), i.e. identical for all taxpayers, which modified the progressivity of the tax since the
lump sum reductions were proportionally of greater...
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