Ethnically diverse parents targeted far more often in tax office's fraud witch hunt
The Tax Authority much more often accused ethnically diverse parents of fraud than persons of Dutch descent, the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights said after analyzing all childcare allowance applications in 2014 and 2018, before the benefits scandal came to light.
“The tough approach to fraud by the Tax Authority with regard to childcare allowance structurally affected parents with a foreign background more often than parents of Dutch descent. Parents of foreign descent were up to two times more likely to be selected for supervisory action on average,” the report said.
The differences were even more significant when analyzing specific forms of supervision or enforcement by the tax authorities. The researchers looked at the risk classification model, which was used as the basis to determine which parents would be subjected to additional checks by a civil servant.
The report noted that “in 2014, people of foreign descent were eight times more likely to be selected for further check-ups than people of Dutch descent.” Additionally, parents were seven times more likely to be reported for “intentional/gross negligence” if they had a foreign background.
As a rule, the “intentional/gross negligence” label resulted in an “extremely strict recovery regime,” the report stated. The Tax Authority forced these parents to repay the entire amount of their benefits, even if they could not afford to do so. In 2018, parents of foreign descent were five times more likely to get this tag.
The Dutch public has already known for years that many parents who received benefits were pushed into intense financial difficulty by being falsely accused of trying to defraud the Dutch State.
“But this is the first time that we now have a detailed answer to the question of whether people of foreign descent were more likely to be confronted with this approach. That indeed turned out to be the case,” said Jacobine Geel, the chair of the Dutch Institute for Human Rights.
She said the research provided sufficient reason to suspect that parents were discriminated against based on their ethnic background or nationality. “This suspicion has an important legal consequence: it means that the parents do not have to provide further proof of discrimination, but that it is now up to the Tax Authority to demonstrate in all those individual cases that they have not been discriminatory.”