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As a self-employed person who (voluntarily) ceases activities, am I also entitled to compensation from Corona?

Tuesday 28/04/2020
Zelfstandige die de activiteiten stopzet

Self-employed persons in their main occupation who have to stop their activity because of the corona virus can receive a financial allowance for up to 12 months.

The relief grant that can be obtained as a result of the Corona virus has been made more flexible.

Who can benefit from this relief grant :

  • Self-employed persons in their main profession, assisting spouses (affiliated in the maxi-status) and self-employed persons in their secondary profession who pay at least the minimum contribution in their main profession (745,51 euro per quarter), can apply for the relief grant. This includes self-employed persons who only started after 1 January 2019 or self-employed persons who still have unpaid social security contributions, regardless of whether you live in Belgium or not.
  • Self-employed persons in a secondary occupation who pay lower social security contributions, pensioners, student self-employed persons and self-employed persons with a secondary occupation of equal value cannot apply for the relief grant.

You are entitled to a relief grant on condition that you :

  • work in the catering industry (even if you are not completely closed and still offer take-away meals, still deliver to people's homes or your hotel remains open).
  • You work in another sector with a compulsory full or partial closure (even if you continue part of your activity or another independent activity, such as a teacher who still runs his webshop). Think, for example, of a garage owner who closes his showroom but still does urgent repairs, a clothing shop that still sells online, a bakery that has to close its tearoom area...
  • the coronavirus interrupts your activities for at least seven consecutive days (e.g. because you have few customers or as a precaution). In that case, you may in principle no longer carry out any activities during those seven days.

If you belong to the last group - which interrupts its activities for at least seven consecutive days - then certain activities are still allowed without losing your benefit:

  • Emergencies: urgent consultations by doctors, paramedics or veterinarians; but also an absolutely necessary maintenance or repair by mechanics, electricians, plumbers, etc. Necessary means that without your intervention, safety or hygiene will be compromised. It is best to use your common sense when making an assessment.
  • Limited activities, necessary for the survival of the company, and minimal activities, such as answering phones or e-mails.
  • Do not receive any other social benefit, except temporary unemployment benefit.

Directors may still receive remuneration during a period of bridging rights. The payment of a remuneration as a manager (also in the form of a benefit in kind) does not pose a problem for the granting of the relief grant. It is only important that no more activities are carried out for at least 7 days. There are only a few exceptions to this:

  • Small tasks, aimed at ensuring the continued existence of the activity, are allowed. It concerns, for example, answering phones or e-mails. Specifically for care professions, it has now been confirmed that those who interrupt their activity for at least 7 days but still intervene for urgent (para-)medical cases, are also eligible for the relief grant.
  • Companies that are directly obliged by the government to close down partially or completely, are in any case eligible for the relief grant, even if they are still working partially.Think for example of: only take-away meals, hairdressing salons that continue to work during the week, a garage owner who closes his showroom but still does urgent repairs, a clothing store that still sells online, a bakery that has to close its tearoom section... In short: every self-employed person with a mandatory - partial or not - closure is entitled to the relief grant, even if he still performs other activities.

Do you become incapacitated for work, for example because you have COVID-19? Then you retain the relief grant on condition that you interrupt your activities for at least seven days in the course of the month, without those days being covered by sickness benefits. 

You may combine the relief grant with another professional activity as an employee or civil servant almost without restrictions. You are entitled to a benefit in March and April as long as you remain self-employed as your main occupation or assisting spouse. This also applies if you pay the same social security contributions as a self-employed person in a different contribution category, such as a secondary occupation. 

What amount will you receive?

  • You work in the hotel and catering industry or another sector with total or partial closure: for the months of March and April you are entitled to a benefit of 1,291.69 euros (or 1,614.10 euros with family expenses).
  • You interrupt your activities of your own accord for at least seven days: you are entitled to a benefit of 1,291.69 euros (or 1,614.10 euros with family expenses) for either March (you only interrupt your activities in the course of March) or April (you only interrupt your activities in the course of April) or March and April (you interrupt your activities in the course of March and April).

The Corona crisis bridging right was extended until 31 May 2020. This means that self-employed persons who must remain compulsorily closed until 3 May 2020 (or longer) or who interrupt their activities in May for seven consecutive calendar days are also entitled to the bridging right for the month of May. 

Please note that the bridging fee is a replacement income and not a subsidy. The amounts mentioned above are gross amounts, i.e. taxes will still have to be paid on them.

You must apply for the relief grant from your social insurance fund before the end of the second quarter following the quarter in which you stopped your self-employed activity. 

The relief grant can be combined with the nuisance premium if all conditions are met. 

Points of attention bridging law : 

A voluntary increase of the contribution is not taken into account. therefore, it makes no sense to voluntarily increase the provisional contribution in order to be entitled to a (higher) benefit. 

However, a reduction of the provisional contribution below one of the above-mentioned limits may have an impact. In order to assess whether a person is entitled to a (half) bridging allowance, the provisional contribution paid after a possible reduction is taken into account. 

Due to the corona crisis, the income of many self-employed people will be lower than in other years. Therefore, the benefit will not be reclaimed if, during the revision of the provisional contributions, it appears that your client would not be entitled to the half or full benefit on the basis of his income in 2020. 

Are you not eligible for the (full) bridging right on the basis of your statutory provisional contribution, but do you think you will meet the condition on the basis of your income in 2020? Then you can still receive the benefit afterwards. Make sure that you submit an application on time! Then it is important that you apply for the bridging right by 30 September 2020 at the latest. If you only want to apply for the benefit for the month of April (and possibly later months), you still have until 31 December 2020. Although this application will initially be refused, it is important to submit it anyway. If you fail to do so, you will lose the opportunity to still receive a benefit after the review. 

If you have other questions regarding the Corona crisis, please visit our special FAQ

Last update: 30/04/2020

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Saskia Lombaerts
Saskia Lombaerts
Director Tax & Legal