A popular financing model that combines saving and borrowing
In most cases, a home savings scheme combines a savings account and a building loan. It is also possible to take out a home savings scheme without a loan component. It is a popular form of finance mainly because it offers fixed interest rates that protect against fluctuations in the capital market. Plus, the annual interest income is tax-free. The instalments and premiums paid are deductible from taxable income up to the thresholds fixed by the legislator.
A home savings scheme is taken out for a certain amount (the target amount one wishes to save) at an agreed tariff (term, repayment amounts, etc.). Regardless of the tariff, this type of scheme goes through three distinct phases: the savings phase, involving regular monthly deposits; the allocation phase, involving disbursement of the entire amount saved and the loan amount; the loan phase for paying off the loan. Of course, the savings may also be disbursed without taking out a loan.
Tax advantages in detail
As the law currently stands, the premiums and instalments paid on the home savings account in a year are deductible up to the following limits: up to EUR 1,344 if the client is aged between 18 and 40 at the beginning of the year; up to EUR 672 if the customer is over 40 years old. This amount is increased by the number of people in the household. The person’s partner (spouse or jointly assessed partner) and every child for whom the taxpayer receives a child tax allowance. A single person who takes out a home savings scheme solely to take advantage of the tax deductions must save at least EUR 56 per month.
A single person who takes out a home savings scheme solely to take advantage of the tax deductions must save at least EUR 56 per month.
Every taxpayer, be they a resident of Luxembourg or cross-border commuter, can avail of the tax advantages in conjunction with a building society savings account. However, a number of criteria must be met:
- submission of a tax return or an annual adjustment of income tax (Lohnsteuerausgleich) in Luxembourg;
- equivalence to a tax resident (for cross-border commuters);
- conclusion of a home savings scheme with a building society approved in Luxembourg or in another EU member state;
- compliance with the statutory contractual term before use of the money;
- conclusion of a contract to finance the purchase, construction or renovation of a property for personal residential use.
Since the 2017 tax reform the conditions for use of the savings are very strict. The money must be used for one’s principal private residence. It can be used to build or renovate a house, carry out repairs on a house or repay a mortgage. Permitted uses include façade renovation, roof repairs, upgrading of electrics or plumbing, funding a bathroom, new windows or a boiler, tiling and painting. Financing a property other than the principal private residence is not permitted. Neither is the purchase of moveable items (couch, tables, chairs, kitchen, etc.). A kitchen is considered a moveable item for tax purposes. This must be borne in mind.
In most cases, a home savings account is opened for a minimum period of ten years. All instalments paid during these ten years are tax deductible, as long as the money is used as described (in compliance with the law). If the conditions are not met, the taxpayer will cease to qualify for the deductions and, in some cases, may even be ordered to pay tax back.
Tax case studies
A household with three children
The mother (subscriber of the home savings scheme) is 43 and the father is 45. They can deduct 2 x EUR 672 for the parents and 3 x EUR 672 for the children, that is, EUR 3,360 per year. It is therefore in their interest to save at least EUR 280 per month.
A household with two children
The mother (subscriber of the home savings scheme) is 38 and the father is 42. They can deduct 2 x EUR 1,344 for the parents and 2 x EUR 1,344 for the children, that is, EUR 5,376 per year. So, it is in their interest to save at least EUR 448 per month.
Please note: In order to raise the maximum deductible amount, one of the two people must be less than 40 years old (the subscriber). The maximum amount is then doubled for all members of the household.
Relief on the premiums and instalments paid as part of a home savings scheme is claimed using the Luxembourg tax return (form 100) or a year-end tax adjustment (form 163). Contributions to the home savings scheme are classified as “Special expenses” and must be declared in column “E. Home saving schemes” on page 15 of the return. It is sufficient to declare the name of the building society, its identifier, the start date of the scheme and the amount of premiums paid during the year. It is advisable to enclose a copy of the building society’s statement of annual instalments.
Both resident taxpayers and cross-border commuters can open a home savings account in Luxembourg and benefit from the tax deductions.
Both resident taxpayers and cross-border commuters can open a home savings account in Luxembourg and benefit from the tax deductions but the property to be purchased with the loan must be located in Luxembourg or Germany. This is because the parent companies of the building societies operating in Luxembourg have their registered offices in Germany. And they do not accept mortgages on houses or apartments in Belgium or France.