Dual nationals more strictly scrutinized by tax office

Belastingdienst Amsterdam
Belastingdienst AmsterdamBICWikimedia CommonsCC-BY-SA

Over 11 thousand Netherlands citizens with dual nationality were subject to stricter inspections by the Tax Authority than other Dutch people. Their second nationality was an official selection criterion to determine whether they were an increased risk of fraud, the Tax Authority acknowledged after an investigation by RTL Nieuws and Trouw. This is the first time the tax office confirmed that nationality was used as an "indicator" to make a distinction between Dutch citizens, according to RTL Nieuws.

The Tax Authority confirmed to RTL that a "risk module" was implemented in 2012 that was used in the initial assessment of whether citizens were likely to commit fraud. One of the selection rules used was second nationality. According to the Tax Authority, stricter inspections were done if citizens met five criteria of the selection rules. Other criteria included whether someone had declared high deductions. 

The selection criteria were added to the risk module based on "knowledge, expertise, patterns, ans experience from previous years," according to RTL. In 2012 a total of 3,403 citizens were singled out for inspection based on this, in 2013 there were 7,644 people, and in 2014 there were 189. In the 2014 and 2015 the law was amended, so that data about second nationality was no longer included in the personal records database BRP and was no longer passed on to the Tax Authority. The Tax Authority told RTL that since January 2015, second nationality no longer played a role in selection for inspections. 

But in the so-called childcare allowance affair, in which thousands of parents had their childcare allowance halted after unjustly being labeled fraudsters, it appeared that the Tax Authority had kept old data about second nationality for years. And that this data could be accessed by employees of the Allowances department. 

The Dutch data protection authority AP told RTL that it was not aware that the Tax Authority used second nationality data between 2012 and 2015.

According to RTL, sources said that within the Tax Authority selection based on second nationality is not necessarily considered discrimination based on ethnicity or origin. The Tax Authority still denies that it was guilty of ethnic profiling, telling the broadcaster that during risk selection, it was only looked at whether someone was Dutch. "But we can never absolutely rule it out," a spokesperson said.

CDA parliamentarian Pieter Omtzigt and SP colleague Renske Leijten want clarification from the Ministry of Finance. "I want to know exactly when and how long this was done," Omtzigt said to RTL. Leijten added: "I think this is serious. It cannot, must not be allowed. It is a slap in the face of society."