Cabinet member resigns over false accusations of fraud by the Tax Authority
Menno Snel announced his resignation from the Dutch Cabinet over a scandal in the tax office where hundreds of parents lost childcare benefits unjustly, a mistake that could cost the Dutch public over 8.6 million euros. The parents are suspected of being victims of racial and ethnic profiling in the Tax Authority's investigation of fraud, and parliamentarians were reportedly fed up when the parents involved were unable to get legible copies of the authority's internal files on the affected families.
Snel was the State Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, making him number two in the ministry behind Wopke Hoekstra. Snel announced his resignation on Wednesday before Members of Parliament started a debate on the issue. His only remaining support in the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, was from the coalition parties, according to broadcaster NOS.
Yesterday, Snel said 200 parents will receive compensation up to 20 thousand euros over the error, and another 70 parents will receive more than that. The payouts will range up to 66 thousand euro.
The compensation was agreed after the Tax Authority further erred by heavily redacting copies of their office's own files when they were requested by a group of parents. The parents were trying to determine how the tax office determined the parents were defrauding the system.
Though Snel, acknowledged that blacking out the documents was a mistake, a report by RTL Nieuws and Trouw accused him of deliberately withholding information from parliamentarians about the number of victims in the affair.
In its criticism of the situation, the National Ombudsman accused the Dutch tax office of making life virtually impossible for hundreds of families. The Children's Ombudsman also accused the Tax Authority of ignoring the welfare and rights of children involved in the case.