Error by tax authorities would have put thousands of entrepreneurs in debt
Thousands of Dutch people have wrongfully had to repay thousands of euros in childcare-related benefits, housing benefits, and health care benefits. As a result, many of them ended up in debt wrote the national newspaper de Volkskrant on Saturday. According to the newspaper, mistakes were made by the tax authorities, which in the end only paid a small amount of money as compensation.
A total of ten to fifteen thousand Dutch people have been duped, the newspaper writes, based on estimates from the Ministry of Finance. They made use of the so-called loan benefit (Bbz), through which they received an interest-free loan to start their own business.
If an entrepreneur's earning was below the loan benefit level, the loan would be converted into a gift. However, the tax authorities added the 'waived amount' to the entrepreneurs' assessment income, as a result of which their income on paper was far too high. The tax authorities then reclaimed their other allowances.
According to De Volkskrant, the problem came to light in 2010 and the then Minister of Finance Eric Wiebes was asked at the end of 2014 to adjust the scheme. That eventually happened in 2017, the newspaper writes, but Wiebes would have refused to pay damages.
'Tax authorities hardly made any effort to trace victims'
At the insistence of the National Ombudsman and motions from, among others, CDA MP Pieter Omtzigt, a small group of citizens received compensation. These were victims that were duped in the period from 2014 to 2016.
According to de Volkskrant, the Tax and Customs Administration made little effort to trace people who were entitled to financial compensation. Where about 3,000 to 4,500 Dutch should have received money, they only compensated 1,169 individuals. Only 2.6 million euros of the reserved 17 million euros was paid out.
As a result, more than ten thousand victims were probably left out, according to de Volkskrant. Discussions with them show that they still have to contend with debts or had to take out loans in order to pay claims from the tax authorities.
Omtzigt wants to ask parliamentary questions about the issue. "The case shows many parallels with the childcare benefits affair", said the CDA MP.