Tuesday, 5 April 2016 - 13:31
Advocate: Tax office responsible for ensuring receipt of messages
The Tax Authorities must ensure that no citizen miss any messages, including those who can not or do not want to communicate digitally, according to the National Ombudsman Reinier van Zutphen in a report presented to the Ministry of Finance on Tuesday, NU reports. On Monday already the Ombudsman made clear that he feels the tax office rushed the transition from the traditional blue tax envelopes to online messaging. In the report he states that it is up to the Tax Authorities to make sure that all citizens receive their tax related communications. He makes several recommendations on how to do so. The Tax Authorities must provide available and accessible help for activating and consulting the digital mailbox. There must also be a balanced and well-functioning safety net consisting of social workers to help citizens who are not comfortable behind the computer. The current system in place, which offers help in applying and activating DigiD, is not enough, according to Van Zutphen. Van Zutphen also believes that people who do not want to or do not want to communicate with the Tax office digitally, should still be allowed to do so by post. The tax office initially gave these people a temporary exception. Only in march it became clear that the exception would be structural. At the beginning of March only 3.6 of the total 12 million digital tax mailboxes were activated. "These figures show that many people are not yet ready to receive only digital messages from the tax authorities", Van Zutphen writes. "Because they are not digitally proficcient or do not have a computer or internet at home, these people are forced to seek help in receiving and reading their mail from the tax authorities. They thus lose some of their independence, while they were able to work with paper messages themselves." The Ombudsman thinks that the Tax Authorities can only continue with the digitization of communications once they've implemented all his recommendations.