The proposed research focuses on the existence, the application and the scope, in Belgian legal order and abroad, of the legal rule under which public property is exempted from taxation. Such a rule would concern the Brussels Capital Region (BCR) in a dual way. On the one hand it would reduce the Region's autonomy in fiscal matters by limiting the admittance to lay taxes on the public property of other authorities. Considering the large amount of such property on the BCR's territory, belonging to several local, national, European and international authorities, any tax-freedom on that subject would have significant financial consequences. On the other hand the concerned rule would prevent the BCR to be taxed itself, on his own public property, by municipal authorities.
For about hundred years the rule of tax-freedom of public property is established bij the Court of Cassation's jurisdiction as a so-called 'general principle of law', at least in the sphere of local (i.e. municipal and provincial) taxes. We now want to investigate if the rule as such, in general, nowadays still can be uphold. Thereupon we will explore the (im)possibility to extrapolate the said rule, once limiting only local tax-levying competence, to the Belgian federal states, which have been created much more recently. Finally we will set up a list of foreign techniques of financial compensation, which can be used by the BCR to make new demands in connection with the proceeding reform of the Belgian State.
In the first place the gathering, reading and analysis of all Belgian jurisdiction and jurisprudence relating to tax-freedom of public property will enable us to define the reasons given, in past and in present, to justify this rule. We will test their actual pertinence. We will also pay attention to some other justifications to uphold the rule and/or to apply it to federal states like the BCR. Afterwards we will consider the tax-freedom-rule in some foreign legal orders, particularly these of some meaningful European and/or federated countries. In this way we will obtain a well-balanced survey of the rule and its application in many different countries (either federated or unitary states) belonging to various legal families (either common law or civil law). For each country we will make an exhaustive screen of all sources of law, which are available by way of internet, working visites to foreign libraries and personal talks with local specialists.
The results of the research will be set down in a final report, drawn up in a double version: a scientific one, intended to be presented to obtain the Doctor's degree of Laws, and an operational one, useful for the BCR authorities.