Professional expenditure: is educational expenditure deductible?

You must follow trainings and courses to keep your professional knowledge up-to-date. The costs for these trainings can be considerable. Fortunately these expenses qualify as professional expenditure.

General rule

Costs made by a tax payer can be deducted as professional expenditure when they are incurred in the taxable period and made to obtain or to maintain taxable income. You should ascertain the authenticity and the amount of these expenses by pieces of evidence or, if that is not possible, by all possible means of common law.

Link with your professional activity

The expenses you want to deduct should have a link with your profession. Next to this, there should also be an 'intentional' link: you should make the expenses to obtain taxable income. To judge whether these conditions are fulfilled, the concrete circumstances play an important role. There is always a certain appraisal possible by the tax authorities.

Costs preceding the professional activity

Costs preceding a professional activity are generally not deductible. But: expenses for preparatory actions having a link with the professional activity are deductible.

Conclusion: educational expenditure is ...

The general rules apply. This means that a distinction should be made between:

expenses made to follow a training relating to your current profession, e.g. a specialization course. This expenditure is deductible. Not only the enrollment fee is deductible, but also the other related expenses: e.g. course material, mileage, etc.

expenses made to make a carrier switch. These expenses are considered to be personal expenses and are not deductible.

The category to which a certain training belongs, is a factual issue which can lead to discussion.

To conclude ...

We remind you that you always have the choice between proving your actual costs or using the lump sum deduction (forfait). When you prove your actual expenses, you can for that taxable period no longer make use of the lump sum deduction. If you opt for the lump sum deduction, you have right to this deduction anyhow, even if the actual expenses are lower or inexistent. The lump sum deduction is after all a rightfully minimum deduction which is applied by the tax authorities automatically. This lump sum deduction is calculated as a percentage of your taxable income, with a maximum of 3.670 for employees and 2.200 for directors (figures for this taxable year/your income in 2011).

Proving your actual expenses is only advantageous when your actual expenses are higher than the lump sum deduction. Also note that proving your actual expenses implies extra administration and burden of proof, and that it is more likely that the tax authorities will audit you.