FAQ - Associations and foundations (A&F)

1. If a small association voluntarily opts to keep its accounts in accordance with the rules for large associations, where should it file its annual accounts?

Small associations which voluntarily keep their accounts in accordance with the rules for large associations have to draw up their accounts according to the model applicable to large associations. However, they file their accounts with the registry of the commercial court, and not with the National Bank. If and only if they choose to, they can also file the annual accounts with the National Bank, subject to payment of the applicable filing charges.

2. Exceeding (or no longer exceeding) the criteria - principle of consistency

If the criteria are exceeded or are no longer exceeded, this will only have an effect if it occurs during two consecutive financial years. This is called the consistency principle.

3. One of the size criteria is the amount of 'receipts other than exceptional receipts, excluding VAT'. What does that mean?

It means the receipts generated by the ordinary operations of the association or foundation.

In the case of a small association or foundation, it is the total receipts included in the statement of receipts and expenditure according to the minimum format for 'small' associations or foundations, less exceptional receipts.

For large and very large associations or foundations, it is the sum of the receipts recorded under accounts 70 to 74 of the accounting system.

In the case of a newly formed association, it is for the executive board to determine, on the basis of the budget, which accounting system should be followed.

4. Do the size criteria have to be calculated on a consolidated basis in the same way as for enterprises?

The size criteria have to be calculated separately for each association or foundation, except in the case of a foreign NPO with a centre of operations in Belgium. For the purpose of calculating the size criteria, all centres of operations in Belgium belonging to the same foreign NPO are viewed collectively as one separate NPO.

5. When the size criteria are determined, should the number of full-time equivalents (FTEs) include persons who are paid by another body (such as a Federal Public Service) but actually work for the association or foundation?

Those persons should be included in calculating the number of full-time equivalents if the contract of employment was concluded between the employee and the association or foundation.

Those persons should be disregarded in calculating the number of full-time equivalents if the contract of employment was concluded between the employee and another department (for example a Federal Public Service), but actually works for the association or foundation.

6. What are the obligations of large and very large associations and foundations which are subject to separate legislation or special rules?

Associations and foundations which are subject to accounting obligations under special rules or legislation do not have to comply with the legislation on associations and foundations in so far as their own accounting rules or laws are at least equivalent.

If the executive board considers that the annual accounts based on the special legislation are at least equivalent, then those are the accounts which have to be submitted to the National Bank. Those annual accounts must include a special covering sheet for the annual accounts of associations or foundations, compiled according to a different format. An association or foundation has to state on this special covering sheet the statutory basis justifying the use of a different format.

For more details on this question, see the CBN-CNC Recommendations on the equivalence of accounting rules imposed by sectoral regulations in relation to the accounting rules for NPOs, INPOs and foundations.

7. Which associations and foundations have to draw up a social balance sheet?

The social balance sheet has to be completed by each association and foundation which has an average of at least 20 staff, on an annual basis, expressed in full-time equivalents (FTEs). In the case of large and very large associations and foundations, the social balance sheet forms part of the annual accounts to be filed with the National Bank.

Associations and foundations which are large or very large but use a model other than the abbreviated or full standardised model for the annual accounts of associations and foundations have to include a social balance sheet if the model which they use does not comprise one.

Associations and foundations employing fewer than 20 FTEs but still required to submit annual accounts to the National Bank may voluntarily also complete the social balance sheet section of the annual accounts, with a view to transparency.

A small association or foundation which does not have to publish any annual accounts via the National Bank but which employs 20 FTEs or more has to draw up a social balance sheet and submit it to the Central Balance Sheet Office, which will not make the data available as such to third parties but will only incorporate them in the statistics which it publishes.