Anger over blacked-out dossiers sent to tax office profiling victims

The Tax Authority released the files of some parents whose childcare allowance was halted because they were unjustly suspected of fraud, at the parents' request because they wanted to know what led to these suspicions. But to the fury of a number of parliamentarians, large parts of the documents are completely blacked-out, according to a video SP parliamentarian Renske Leijten posted on Twitter.

Last month a group of about 30 parents protested at the tax office in Rotterdam, demanding access to their files. They were promised that their files would be given to them in the short term. The first group of around 10 parents received their files on Tuesday. 

Parts of the files are legible, but according to Leijten, these are mainly correspondence between the parents and the Tax Authority. The reports by the CAF - the department responsible for fraud investigations - are completely blacked out.

"They don't get an answer to the question: why am I seen as a fraud? While that is exactly what they are looking for ", Leijten said to NOS. "This looks like top-class harassment." Other MPs are also outraged. CDA parliamentarian Pieter Omtzight retweeted Leijten's video with the text "watch and shudder". VVD MP Helma Lodders called it "certainly astonishing".

This affair revolves around the unlawful termination of hundreds of parents' childcare allowance. The parents were wrongfully labeled as fraudsters and were ordered to repay allowances, sometimes running up to tens of thousands of euros. There are suspicions that investigators used ethnic profiling - at one daycare in Eindhoven, parents whose allowance was halted almost exclusively had a second nationality.

The committee that investigated this affair concluded that the Tax Authority's fraud approach derailed and that it caused much suffering. The National Ombudsman said that the Tax Authority put hundreds of families in an impossible situation. And the Children's Ombudsman accused the Tax Authority of ignoring children's rights

Late last month RTL Nieuws and Trouw reported that State Secretary Menno Snel of Finance deliberately withheld information from the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, regarding how many parents had their childcare allowance unjustly halted.