Tax Authority had 'hard targets' for money recovered from 'fraudsters': report

Belastingdienst tax blue envelope
Euros on the well-known "blue envelope" sent by the Belastingdienst, the Dutch tax officeJoeppoulssenDepositPhotosDeposit Photos

For years the Tax Authority had hard targets for amounts that had to be recovered from paid allowances. If they did not reach these targets, they had to scrutinize more potential fraudsters to achieve the 'minimum yield', Trouw and RTL Nieuws report based on their own research.

These hard targets partly resulted in the so-called childcare allowance scandal. Thousands of parents were unjustly labeled fraudsters and ordered to repay their childcare allowances, leaving families in impossible situations, according to the National Ombudsman. The Donner committee who investigated this affair spoke of a "form of moral corruption" by the Tax authority. 

The hard targets came from agreements made in 2013 to tackle fraud more harshly, according to RTL. Investments were made in extra personnel and software in the fight against fraud - the costs of which had to be covered by recovered allowances, the broadcaster wrote. 

Documents in the news agencies' possession show that in the summer of 2018, for example, the Allowances department warned that the "minimum yield of the business case Fraud (25 million euros)" will not be achieved. The document stated for this reason, the "risk selection" was being tightened and the service was going to check thousands of people with allowances very intensively, according to RTL. 

A spokesperson for State Secretary Alexandra van Huffelen, responsible for Allowances, told RTL that the Tax Authority did indeed work with targets in the hunt for fraud since 2013, but that this method was abandoned last year. "Bringing in an amount of fraud can never be the goal," the spokesperson said. "The core must be that people who are entitled to it receive allowances, that unintentional mistakes in applications are prevented, and that fraud is tackled. Without financial objective."

The spokesperson also said that there are "no indications" that fraud teams or employees were evaluated on how much money they recovered. The spokesperson also said that insofar as "we have been able to verify" there were no bonuses or special awards for those who achieved most in the hunt for fraud.