Dutch gov't may admit to institutional racism at Tax Authority: report
State Secretary Marnix van Rij (Tax and Tax Authorities) wants the Cabinet two recognize that the Tax Authority is guilty of institutional racism on specific points. The Council of Ministers will discuss the topic on Wednesday, sources close to the Cabinet confirmed after reports by NOS. The Cabinet also discussed it on Friday but could not reach an agreement.
This has to do with the Tax Authority's controversial system to track down fraudsters. Research by PwC showed that people with a "non-Western appearance" were subjects to stricter controls. Nationality, age, and donations to mosques were also considered fraud risk factors. Van Rij already acknowledged that PwC's findings are serious, calling the criteria "reprehensible" and discriminatory." But he did not mention institutional racism.
The National Coordinator against Discrimination and Racism, Rabin Baldewsingh, criticized Van Rij's attitude in Trouw this weekend. He called the State Secretary too "miserly" in his use of language. "If you don't express yourself as a Cabinet member, that's dangerous. You run the risk of not taking people seriously. You make people feel that they don't matter. You have to acknowledge and recognize their pain." According to Baldewsingh, what the Tax Authority did "was by definition institutional racism."
According to insiders, the Cabinet was unable to reach a solution on Friday because acknowledging racism could have legal, financial, and other consequences. It would also be ideologically sensitive. The State Secretary wants to ensure that the impression is not created that the Tax Authority is racist.
Institutional racism is not the same as racial hatred, Van Rij emphasized on Wednesday. He knows that this is a sensitive topic because many people see no difference between institutional racism and racism as an ideology.
He referred to a definition provided by the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights. He concludes "that there can be unconscious, unintentional behavior in an organization, in which groups are treated differently than others." That is "really different" than consciously excluding people based on ethnicity, origin, or religion, Van Rij said.