Brussels keeps its smart mileage taxation

Brussels keeps its smart mileage taxation
Brussels keeps its smart mileage taxation

How will the smart kilometer tax be calculated? L’Echo has taken note of the project on the table of the Brussels government. If agreed, the system will enter into force in 2022.

Remember! Barely installed as the new Brussels Minister for Mobility, Elke Van den Brandt (Groen) had expressed in our columns his desire to change the taxes linked to vehicle ownership towards so-called intelligent taxation, modulated according to use. A year later, this reform of automobile taxation seems to be on the verge of materializing. The project, baptized SmartMove, was entrusted to two administrations, Bruxelles Environnement and Bruxelles Fiscalité, which developed a new tax model. Let us be clear from the outset: the terms of this reform have not yet been the subject of a political agreement within the government of Rudi Vervoort (PS).

The documents consulted by the Echo, however, provide an overview. As announced in the regional policy statement, it is about abolish the registration tax and the circulation tax to introduce a tariff based on usage a car or a van throughout the territory of the Brussels Region. The price will depend on the time and type of vehicle, according to its fiscal horses (displacement). If we summarize roughly, the bill will be steep for motorists driving powerful cars that circulate a lot during rush hour.

The price will depend on the time of day and the type of vehicle, depending on its fiscal horsepower (displacement).

Hang in there, we’re getting to the heart of the matter. The tax model currently on the table is based on a basic rate per day of use plus a kilometer component. The daily rate varies according to the hours: peak hours (7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.); off-peak hours (from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.) and the night and weekend period, for which there will be nothing to pay. The amount of € 1 for the rush hour and € 0.50 for the off-peak hour is multiplied by a number ranging from zero to six depending on the tax horses. Up to seven fiscal horses, we pay nothing as a base rate while from 20 fiscal horses, we multiply it by six. To this is added a fee per kilometer traveled: 0.18 € / km in rush hour and 0.09 € / km in off-peak hour.

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Free night trips

Concretely, here is what it could give when it comes to checkout. Take the case of Martine, an employee driving a BMW 316D. Her road tax is currently € 439.56 per year while she had paid € 495 for the registration tax. Martine travels 20 kilometers in the Brussels Region during rush hour, 200 days a year. The daily rate of € 1 is multiplied by three due to the fiscal power of his vehicle (11 horses). To this is added the kilometer component of 3.6 € (0.18 € / km x 20 km). This makes a total of € 6.6, to be multiplied by the 200 days of use of the vehicle, or an annual cost of € 1,320.


The base rate can be multiplied by a coefficient ranging from 0 to 6 depending on the fiscal power of the vehicle.

Another fictitious example with René. This worker drives a family car, a Volkswagen Golf Variant, with a fiscal power of 7 horsepower. His home-work trips make him cover 10 km every day in the Capital Region, but only at night. René, who was paying an annual road tax of € 198.40, will therefore no longer pay anything for these journeys, with the SmartMove system.

It is not known at this stage whether motorcycles will be affected by this kilometer taxation. At this stage of the process, the administrations underline the lower impact of this mode of transport on congestion. They therefore propose a zero daily rate and an amount divided by two for the kilometer component.

App or day pass

Technically, SmartMove would be based on two technologies: a smartphone application and the network of plate recognition cameras (ANPR), already in place for the control of the low emission zone. The application would be used to record the distances traveled, information necessary to calculate the amount of the kilometer tax. According to our information, no data on individual journeys would be collected. The app would also make it possible to manage the administrative aspect of the system: register a vehicle, pay the tax or calculate the price of a route, etc. The possibility of an on-board unit to record the journeys of motorists who do not have a smartphone seems to be under study. ANPR cameras would primarily perform a monitoring function by cross-checking their data with those recorded by drivers via the mobile application or the OBUs.

For occasional users or people reluctant to use the app, another system would be offered in the form of a daily flat rate. This pass would be financially disadvantageous (more expensive than the price per kilometer) in order to dissuade heavy rollers and drivers of cars with a high number of fiscal horses from falling back on this option. In the same spirit, the more the number of passes purchased increases, the more the price per pass would also increase, from 10 to 15 then 20 euros per day.

Risk of double taxation

Auto traffic should fall by 10% in the Brussels Region, according to estimates to be taken with a grain of salt. This drop in the number of cars, combined with a drop in autosolism (-17%), should make it possible to reduce by a third the number of hours lost in traffic jams. The use of walking and cycling (+ 10%), public transport (+ 9%) and train (+ 5%) is expected to increase.

The implementation of SmartMove could inflate regional budget revenues. According to the first figures, the system would bring in around 482 million euros per year, excluding operating costs and without taking into account the abolition of registration and circulation taxes, which currently bring in nearly 200 million per year.


millions of euros

SmartMove would bring in around 482 million euros per year, excluding operating costs and without taking into account the abolition of registration and circulation taxes.

Many legal pitfalls still need to be overcome by the Brussels Region. For example, the incorporation of leasing cars to the SmartMove regime must in principle be the subject of a cooperation agreement with the other levels of government. It is very likely that residents of other Regions – who will not benefit from the abolition of circulation and registration taxes like the inhabitants of Brussels – feel the victims of double taxation. It will then be necessary to succeed in proving that the objectives pursued by smart taxation, namely the reduction of automobile congestion and the internalisation of external costs, diverge from the objectives of current taxation and that it is therefore indeed two different taxes. Finally, maintenance of the registration tax only for luxury cars (above 16 fiscal horses), as desired by the regional executive, must be analyzed in the light of the principle of equality and non-discrimination.

The Brussels government will decide in the days or weeks to come whether or not to give the green light to such a project. In the event of an agreement, a legislative framework would be set in the course of 2021 in order to target entry into force of smart taxation in January 2022.

What SmartMove could change for you, in four examples

1 / Nissan Micra (5 fiscal horses)

Gérard drives 100 days a year and travels 500 km during peak hours, 1,000 km during off-peak hours.

  • Registration tax: 61.5 euros
  • Road tax: 105,07 euros

SmartMove kilometer tax

  • Basic tax: 0 € / day (car <7 fiscal horses)
  • Kilometer component: 5 km at 0.18 € + 10 km at 0.09 € = 1.8 €
    Total for 100 days: 180 euros

2 / Ford Focus (9 fiscal horsepower)

Vinciane drives 200 days a year and covers 20 km a day, during rush hour.

  • Registration tax: 867 euros
  • Road tax: 292,38 euros

SmartMove kilometer tax

  • Base tax = 2 € / day (because 9 tax horses)
  • Kilometer component = 20 km at 0.18 € = 3.6 €
    Total for 200 days: 1,120 euros

3 / Volkswagen Golf Variant (7 fiscal horses)

Pierre drives 200 days a year and travels 10 km a day, during rush hour.

  • Registration tax: 123 euros
  • Road tax: 198,40 euros

SmartMove kilometer tax

  • Base tax = 0 € / day (because 7 fiscal horses)
  • Kilometer component = 10 km at 0.18 € = 1.8 €
    Total for 200 days: 360 euros

4 / Audi A8 50 TDI Quattro (15 fiscal horsepower)

Myriam drives 200 days a year and covers 20 km a day, during rush hour.

  • Registration tax: 4,957 euros
  • Road tax: 842,69 euros

SmartMove kilometer tax

  • Base tax = 4 € / day (because 15 fiscal horses)
  • Kilometer component = 20 km at 0.18 € = 3.6 €
    Total for 200 days: 1,520 euros

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