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Are screen glasses covered by the expense allowance scheme (WKR)?



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Are screen glasses covered by the expense allowance scheme (WKR)?

To answer this question, we must first consider whether the screen glasses (or computer glasses) are a health and safety provision. A health and safety provision is always covered by the work-related costs scheme.

Screen glasses are a health and safety provision. There is a targeted exemption for occupational health and safety provisions that is not at the expense of your free space under the expense allowance scheme.

Is a health and safety provision covered by the expense allowance scheme?

A health and safety provision is always covered by the expense allowance scheme. Are screen glasses then tax deductible? Yes, they can be tax deductible. But under certain conditions. The expense allowance scheme allows employers to give untaxed allowances to their employees.

Effective January 1, 2022, the specific exemption for occupational health and safety provisions has been amended, clarifying that only provisions that are directly related to the employer's obligations are exempt.

Health and safety provisions are only specifically exempted if they meet the following conditions:

  • The provisions derive directly from the Health and Safety Act. Briefly, these are facilities that ensure the safety and health of the employee.
  • The employee uses or consumes the facilities at the (home) workplace (in whole or in part) or at a place where you implement the Working Conditions Act.
  • You don't charge any costs to the employee. In other words, the employee may not pay a personal contribution for the provisions. Exchanging a taxed wage component for an untaxed provision is also a personal contribution in this context, for example in cafeteria arrangements.

Are computer glasses covered by the WKR?

Yes, computer glasses can fall under the work-related expenses scheme (WKR) as a targeted exemption within the health and safety provisions. This means that if computer glasses meet the conditions set out in the Working Conditions Act and contribute directly to the employee's health and safety at work, they can be provided as a tax-free occupational health and safety provision. The facility must be used at the workplace or a location where the Working Conditions Act applies, and the cost must not be borne by the employee.

However, if an employee prefers a more luxurious version of the computer glasses that is not necessary for the performance of the work or does not make a direct contribution to occupational safety or health, then an own contribution can be requested for the additional costs. This own contribution can be deducted from the net salary of the employee, or the additional costs can be designated as final taxable income and charged to the free space within the WKR, provided that this meets the customary use criterion.

It is essential to emphasize that specific regulations surrounding computer eyewear and the work expense rules may vary from situation to situation. Employers are well advised to always seek up-to-date information and advice from the Tax Office or a tax advisor to ensure that the reimbursement or provision of computer glasses is handled correctly within the framework of the WKR and applicable tax rules.

Personal contribution

If your employee wants a more luxurious, equally safe version of the same provision or an upgrade of a health and safety provision (a more expensive frame for screen glasses), this is possible, but the specific exemption does not apply to the additional costs involved. For these additional costs or a non-compulsory occupational health and safety provision, you can request a contribution from the employee. You deduct this contribution from the net salary. Instead, you can opt to designate the additional costs or non-compulsory health and safety provision as a final taxable benefit and charge it to the tax-free allowance, subject to the normal criterion. The provision will then remain untaxed for your employee. You can also make use of a cafeteria arrangement for the additional costs or the non-compulsory health and safety provision (see section 4.15 of the Payroll Tax Handbook 2021).

Source: Payroll Tax Handbook 2021 edition October 2021 article 22.1.9, Payroll Tax Newsletter 2022

It is always advisable to consult with the tax authorities or contact your tax advisor to find out in your specific situation whether the screen glasses can be compensated untaxed and whether the screen glasses compensation is deductible for your employee.

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