Thierry Afschrift

THIERRY AFSCHRIFT

Diplomas

Licence en droit (law degree) – Université libre de Bruxelles, Licence spéciale en droit économique (special degree in economic law), Licence spéciale en science fiscale (special degree in tax law), Recognition, by decision of the Board of the Université Libre de Bruxelles, of exceptional scientific merits equal to a PhD thesis (1992)

Bars

Member of the Brussels Bar since 1976

Member of the Madrid, Antwerp, Luxemburg and Geneva Bar

Foreign Lawyer member of the Law Society of Hong-Kong

Deputy counselor at the Brussels Appeal Court

Languages

French, Dutch, English, Spanish, Italian

Academic activities

Current

  • Professor of Tax Law (30 hours) – 1st year of the Master of Science in Management at the Solvay Brussels School of Economics & Management (since 1987)
  • Co-lecturer of “Compléments de fiscalité – impôts indirects” at the Solvay Brussels School of Economics & Management(depuis 1991)
  • President of the Executive Master en Gestion Fiscale (Tax management) at the Solvay Brussels School of Economics & Management

Previously

  • Assistant for the course of Introduction to Law at the Law Faculty of the Université Libre de Bruxelles (from 1st october 1978 to 30 september 1982)
  • Assistant for the course of Tax Law I, at the Law Faculty of the Université Libre de Bruxelles (from 1st october 1982 to 30 september 1988)
  • Professor of Advanced VAT at the Law Faculty of the Université Libre de Bruxelles (1992-1997)
  • Professor of « e-business and tax law » at the D.E.S. en commerce électronique of the Ecole Polytechnique – Université Libre de Bruxelles (2000-2001)

Scientific activities

Publications

Download the complete list of publications

Participation to conferences and seminars

Download the complete list

Lawful tax avoidance, a basic right of the taxpayer

Thierry Afschrift founded the Afschrift law firm in 1994. He was, at the time, a renowned tax specialist, professor in charge of several courses at the Université Libre de Bruxelles. More importantly, 1994 is also the year he published L’évitement licite de l’impôt et la réalité juridique (lawful tax avoidance and legal reality) at the éditions Larcier. In this book, Thierry Afschrift targets a law from 1993 that reformulates the article 344 of the Code d’Impôt sur les Revenus (income tax code). His core message forms the basis of the values held by the lawyers that joined the Afschrift Law Firm: the taxpayer can never be forced to pay more taxes than what the law prescribes.  “The government cannot force a taxpayer, whether a physical person of a legal entity, to place herself in a less favourable situation. Every taxpayer has a right – provided she respects the law – to reduce as much as she can the tax pressure put on her shoulders by the Belgian State. For more than 60 years, successive governments have tried to limit this right, event though it finds its origin in the spirit of the Belgian Constitution. Their attempts have so far been rejected eventually by the Constitutional Court.” The 1993 law, largely useless, has been replaced by a new version in 2012. Thierry Afschrift holds that this version, rechristened disposition anti-abus (anti-abuse provision) by the then Minister of Finances, will face the same constitutional obstacles. “As long as the principle of legality of tax will be enshrined in the Constitution, the legislator will find it very difficult to pretend that a law-abiding citizen could suddenly be deprived of their benefit on the sole reason that he tried to use them to his advantage.”

 

Defending the taxpayer against the State

From its creation on, the Afschrift Law Firm has made it its purpose to defend the taxpayer against the State. That can mean helping him to chose the most appropriate legal framework for his operations, providing him with the necessary help in case of a litigation procedure with the tax administration, or defending him when he is indicted by the Public Ministry.

Advice and litigation

Since the creation of the firm, Thierry Afschrift has always asked the members of the association to provide advice as well as to help in litigation cases. “Even if this form of organisation is not well-spread, it seems undissociable from our objectives. Our message to the taxpayers must be clear: we are confident enough in the quality of our advice to defend them, if needed, against the administration or in front of a court of justice. Moreover, the experience gained from litigation can be allied to law expertise to provide even sounder advice, grounded both in a solid theoretical basis and in practical experience.”