Thousands left in financial uncertainty by Tax office's black list
The Dutch Tax Authority plunged thousands of Netherlands residents into financial insecurity by blocklisting them without any evidence of fraud, NRC wrote based on an as-yet-unpublished investigation by consultancy and accounting firm PwC.
PwC investigated the FSV fraud signaling system on behalf of the Cabinet. It found that 750 households that ended up on the list had their benefits stopped for no reason. Thousands of others were placed under increased surveillance without explanation. The victims sometimes had to provide evidence that they were entitled to a benefit for years. If they made one mistake, they risked being banned from debt restructuring.
Others had their benefits stopped on the day they ended up on the FSV without an investigation, the newspaper wrote. Once on the list, it was almost impossible to get off. The Tax Authority removed only 21 of the over 9,000 people placed on FSV after a "signal of fraud" was investigated. The people on this list include victims of the childcare allowance scandal. But according to NRC, they are "only a fraction of the total."
The fraud signaling system FSV was used from 2012 to March last year. The Tax Authority discontinued the system after investigations found that it violated people's privacy. The system stored personal data for too long, and too many Tax Authority employees had access to it. The tax office registered over 240,000 Netherlands residents on the FSV system.
According to NRC, the PwC investigation report has circulated at the Ministry of Finance for weeks, but parliament has not yet received it. This past week, Finance State Secretary Hans Vijlbrief wrote in a letter to parliament that the Tax Authority may have wrongly rejected the debt restructuring requests of up to 15,000 people. He never mentioned the PwC report, NRC points out.
The Ministry of Finance would not comment to the newspaper.