Dutch tax office knew about racial & ethnic profiling since 2019: Report
The Tax Authority already knew from early 2019 that its officials used second nationality as a selection criterion for investigating parents for childcare allowance fraud. Yet the Tax Authority denied for over a year that it used racial and ethnic profiling, despite multiple questions from parliament and the media about discrimination by the service, Nieuwsuur reports.
The benefits scandal first made headlines in mid-2019 after appeals to the Open Government Act by RTL Nieuws and Trouw. Even before that, officials at the Tax Authority were emailing each other about “apparently selecting based on origin” in fraud investigations. These emails were among new documents about the benefits scandal released last week, after another appeal to the Open Government Act by RTL and Trouw.
The officials concluded that there was ethnic profiling after studying many cases handled by the fraud team CAF. They expressed surprise that one case received so much media and political attention - CAF11, which revolved around childminder agency Dadim in Eindhoven - when so many other CAF cases were similar. “The question is, how much are these cases really different from CAF11?” one email read, according to Nieuwsuur.
Emails also showed that the Tax Authority specifically warned officials not to broaden the case beyond “Dadim” despite the indications that the Eindhoven childminder case was not an isolated incident.
When the benefits scandal first hit the news in May 2019, the Tax Authority vehemently denied using ethnic profiling in fraud investigations. “In the fight against fraud, no selection is made on the second nationality of childminders, childminder agencies, or parents who apply for allowance,” the Tax Authority said. In the following months, the service continued denying this form of discrimination. The Tax Authority only publicly admitted guilt in July 2020, after the Dutch Data Protection Authority ruled that selection based on a second nationality is “unlawful and discriminatory.”
But the new documents reveal that the Tax Authority knew very well that it was doing something wrong as early as 2017 and 2018, according to the program. But the official and political leadership refused to apologize and offer compensation to the victimized parents, calling even a flower voucher “undesirable” because it would have an “oil stain” effect. Then State Secretary Eric Wiebes also said in 2017 that he did not want to be “too humble.”
An internal memorandum from 2018 read: “No compensation has been paid out, while we have clearly not acted right.” And: “There would be leniency, but nothing shows that.”
In May, the Dutch Cabinet admitted to "institutional racism" at the Tax Authority. Various discrimination experts, including the National Coordinator against Discrimination and Racism, urged the Cabinet to also recognize that there was direct discrimination and accept the legal consequences thereof.