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 The 1993 law, largely useless, has been replaced by a new version in 2012.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.”
Strength, courage and gentleness
We have chosen the bear as the brand image of our job as tax lawyers for its strength, its courage and its reputation for gentleness.
Energy and courage
Everybody knows that bears are powerful animals, very quick to defend their cubs and their territories against intruders.
As fiscal lawyers, our role is to defend our clients and to protect their assets against the government. We will tackle this with the same energy and courage as a mother bear defending her cubs.
Gentleness and benevolence
But the lawyer also has to advise and provide guidance to his clients so that they can manage their assets and professional activities. We look after our clients with the same care as that of a mother bear supervising the first steps of her baby cubs.
Finally, the teddy bear is the first friend to whom a small child will confide his secrets, knowing the bear will never betray them.
Inevitably our clients, if they are going to receive advice that is most suitable for their needs, will have to disclose certain details of their private lives. We do everything possible to protect such confidential data.
To provide a tangible example of our attachment to bears as the emblems of our activity, we have decided to put words into action. That is why we support in Spain the charity “Fundación oso de Asturias” which works for the protection of bears in Asturias.