Top tax officials allowed witch hunt on childcare allowance fraud: report

Top officials from the Tax Authority knowingly allowed an illegal fraud hunt on childcare allowance recipients that has been dragging on since 2014, Trouw and RTL Nieuws report based on their own research into documents received through the Open Government Act. 

Around 300 parents were left in financial troubles when their childcare allowance was halted after a childminder agency in Eindhoven became the focus of a major fraud investigation. Afterwards it turned out that their allowances were halted based on outdated information. As a result, many families could no longer afford childcare for their children. Some parents had to quit their job or studies to look after kids who could no longer go to daycare.

According to the two news agencies, officials in the highest level of the Tax Authority gave ample room to the team responsible for tackling facilitators, which stopped these families' childcare allowance without the investigations into them being completed. Sources told the news agencies that the so-called Fraud Management Team approved this practice. At the time, the Fraud Management Team consisted of the general manager of the Tax Authority, the director of FIOD, and the director of the Allowances department. According to RTL, the team responsible for stopping the childcare allowances is referred to as the "Cowboy team", because they deliberately sought and crossed the limits of the law. 

In a letter to parliament on Friday, State Secretary Menno Snel of Finance did not confirm or rule out that top officials were involved in illegally halting these families' childcare allowance. . "The analysis of all documents and information is a huge job, which is necessary to get a complete and correct picture, so that a judgment can be made. Because this work has not yet been completed, I cannot yet answer your questions."

Both the National Ombudsman and the Children's Ombudsman released damning reports on how the Tax Authority handled these families' cases. The National Ombudsman called the cessation of the allowances harsh and unjustified, saying that parents' objections were ignored and that the Tax Authority left them in an "impossible situation". The Children's Ombudsman accused the Tax Authority of ignoring children's rights when abolishing the childcare allowances.

Earlier this year, Snel promised that the affected parents will be compensated.