Immigration or fountain of cash ?

After 3 years, I’m leaving the country ! Was I a good citizen ? How much did I cost/earn during my stay ?

Belgium is one of the country with the highest taxes rate in the world. Only a handful of countries have a higher rate. Income taxes rate is at 50%, VAT (sales taxes) is 21% for most product. And we have an expensive socialized health insurance
I have a very good salary for the country (but nothing crazy, just an experienced IT guy, I’m not a banker or politician). My wife has also a salary above average.
So let’s get in the numbers, how much did I pay to the Kingdom of Belgium ?


50% of my income is going to the King of Belgium ! (ok, maybe first to the federal government :))
21% VAT (sales tax) goes on every purchase (a few basic foods are at “only” 12%)
In total, over 3 years, I paid 80.000€ of taxes (directly & indirectly)

Social security, unemployment & co

Before being taxed, 13% of the gross salary is sent to social security

  • 7.5% for pension
  • 3.55% for healthcare
  • 1.15% for sickness compensation (when you don’t work because of sickness you get paid)
  • 0.87% for unemployement

But the employer has also to pay a measly 34% of the gross salary in social security taxes.

  • 8.86% for pension
  • 3.8% for healthcare
  • 2.35% compensating lack of salary during sickness
  • 7% for family allocation
  • 3% for unemployement
  • 7.48% for “salary moderation”, it’s plainly to make more expensive higher salaries
  • a bunch of other small 0.x% for training, work accident & co to reach 34%

Between my employer & my taxes, I paid 100.000€ of social security related taxes. So in total, over 3 years I paid 180.000€ to Belgium.

What did I get

Ok, I paid a lot, but in exchange I have received some services:

  • It costed us nothing to get a child (between insurance & family allocation), the allocation we received probably covered everything (except daycare) until her 1st birthday.

  • Speaking of daycare, the waiting list for public daycare was…… 2.5 years (around the time when she’s supposed to start kinder garden). Awesome, isn’t it ? So we had to pay a 500€ per month private daycare.

  • I got 7 days for parental leave, my wife got 15 weeks . The ridiculous part is that her “compensating salary” was higher than her usual salary as it was taxed at 11% instead of 50% for regular work.

  • Our out-of-pocket healthcare costs ended up at around 1500€ for 2 years

  • We lived in a relatively safe country (except that my bike got stolen from a closed parking :()

Interesting facts

  • Pension : by default everybody save 17% of salary for pension. What do you get for pension is ((averaged income adjusted for inflation) / 45) * family rate (0.65 or 0.7 depending if you are in couple or single)
    It’s a pretty simple system, if you work less or longer than the mandatory 45 years, your average income change.
  • Socialized healthcare: it looks relatively cheap, but there are a lot of hidden costs (nearly 11% of gross salary is allocated to it)

Have you ever tried to calculate how much you are paying to your country ?

2 thoughts on “Immigration or fountain of cash ?

  1. That’s a great story. You paid a lot to the country in relatively little time. I have been thinking along similar lines recently. I have been in South America for 4 years and have paid a decent amount of taxes in a country where most people don’t pay taxes. Don’t forget that if you work on the internet you are probably also bringing money form abroad into the country’s economy.

    • Yes it’s true that any online income will end up in the economy (or hopefully in savings :))
      But in my case it’s peanuts compared to my day job.

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