Inheritance law in the Walloon Region

The Constitutional Court judged that there is a violation
of the equality principle concerning the inheritance taxes
in the Walloon Region

On 26 November 2009, the Constitutional Court ruled that Article 48 of the Code of inheritance taxes, as applicable in the Walloon Region, violates Articles 10 and 11 of the Contitution, because it requires that the declaration of legal cohabitation must be done more than one year before the opening of the succession.

This judgement was rendered in response to a prejudicial question, asked by the Court of first instance of Mons, at the request of Alain De Jonge, acting for the petitioner Ms Denise Thibaut.

Article 48 of the Code of inheritance taxes, as applicable in the Walloon Region, stipulates that not married couples can benefit of the same tariff for inheritance taxes as married couples under the condition that they did a declaration of legal cohabitation at least one year before the death of a member of this couple.
This excludes non married couples from the benefice of the tariff that is applicable between married persons if they did not do the declaration of legal cohabitation at least one year, before the death, even if this non married couple formed a stable and durable couple for a long period.

The Court considered that the preparatory works reveal that the Walloon Region used this provision to avoid fraud in case of legal cohabitation declared in extremis with the only aim to benefit from the reduced tariff.
However, this risk is not different for people who choose to marry in extremis.
The consequence is that the Walloon provision in formulating with regard to legal cohabitants an obligation concerning the duration that does not exist between married people, creates a difference of treatment, which cannot be reasonably justified with regard to the considered measure.

For these reasons, the Constitutional Court ruled that Article 48 of the Code of inheritance taxes, as applicable in the Walloon Region, violates Articles 10 and 11 of the Constitution, because it requires that the declaration of legal cohabitation must be done more than one year before the death of a member of a cohabitating couple.

The newspaper "La Libre Belgique" published an article concerning this judgment.

Judgment nr. 187/2009 of 26 november 2009.


11 December 2009