For years the Tax Authority had hard targets for amounts that had to be recovered from paid allowances. If they did not reach these targets, they had to scrutinize more potential fraudsters to achieve the 'minimum yield', Trouw and RTL Nieuws report based on their own research.
Another 1,800 parents may be eligible for compensation in the so-called childcare allowance affair, the Donner Committee concluded on Thursday, after investigating cases in which the Tax Authority wrongfully labeled parents as fraudsters and halting their childcare allowance as a result, NOS and NU.nl report.
In 2014, top officials warned then Minister Lodewijk Asscher and State Secretary Erik Wiebes that the Tax Authority's hunt for fraud was going too far and leaving thousands of families in financial difficulties. But instead of intervening, they ignored the problem, according to Follow The Money's study of confidential documents, RTL Nieuws reports.
There are major doubts in parliament about D66 Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra's plans to reorganize the Tax Authority, including from the coalition parties themselves, was revealed during a debate about the Tax Authority with Hoekstra and Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Tuesday, NOS reports.
Hoekstra plans to split the Tax Authorities into three parts - Customs, Allowances, and Taxes. Each part will have its own official leadership, and two State Secretaries will be appointed to be politically responsible for the service. Who the two State Secretaries will be, is not yet known.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte met with a group of 200 parents who were unjustly labeled fraudsters by the Tax Authority and had their childcare allowance halted as a result. During the emotional meeting, Rutte apologized for the Tax Authority's actions in this affair and listened to parents' stories. Some stories made him shed a tear, he said after the meeting, NU.nl reports.
The government wants two State Secretaries to succeed the resigned Menno Snel, who was responsible for the Tax Authority as State Secretary of Finance. The problems at the Tax Authority are too large for one person to handle, sources involved told broadcaster NOS.
Menno Snel announced his resignation from the Dutch Cabinet over a scandal in the tax office where hundreds of parents lost childcare benefits unjustly, a mistake that could cost the Dutch public over 8.6 million euros.
The Dutch government is implementing a large number of rules, regulations, and law changes at the stroke of midnight on January 1. Below is a summary of changes made in the category Family:
The government will compensate around 270 parents whose childcare allowance was halted after unjust fraud allegations. Their compensation will be in their account before Christmas, by around December 20th, State Secretary Menno Snel of Finance said in a letter sent to parliament on Tuesday.
The Tax Authority released the files of some parents whose childcare allowance was halted because they were unjustly suspected of fraud, at the parents' request because they wanted to know what led to these suspicions. But to the fury of a number of parliamentarians, large parts of the documents are completely blacked-out, according to a video SP parliamentarian Renske Leijten posted on Twitter.
GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver wants to put an end to the childcare allowance and the problems it causes by giving each child three days of free childcare per week. The childcare allowance system is far too complicated, he said to RTL Nieuws.
"People first pay money to a childcare organization and then get money back from the government. It is one big hassle", Klaver said, adding that there is a simple solution. "We say: make it free. We as government just have to offer it, just like you do with education."
State Secretary Menno Snel of Finance has known for some time that the number of victims whose childcare allowance was wrongfully halted is much larger than he told the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, RTL Nieuws and Trouw report based on confidential reports in their possession.
Snel knew about the documents and their content for a long time, but withheld them from the Tweede Kamer, which has been asking about it for around 18 months, according to the news agencies.
For years the Tax Authority ignored internal reports and complaints about the way it treats citizens. The service wrongly demanded money back from tens of thousands of people, without handling their complaints about it, and ignored former tax official Pierre Niessen when he reported this to the highest level, Niessen said in a letter sent to parliament, RTL Nieuws, and Trouw.
There is a culture of fear within the Tax Authority, Niessen said, resulting in his colleagues being afraid to report issues to their managers.
Top officials from the Tax Authority knowingly allowed an illegal fraud hunt on childcare allowance recipients that has been dragging on since 2014, Trouw and RTL Nieuws report based on their own research into documents received through the Open Government Act.
State Secretary Menno Snel of Finance limited the investigation into mistakes made by the Tax Authority while canceling childcare allowances. The investigators Snel himself hired explicitly wanted to do a broader investigation, but Snel refused, RTL Nieuws and Trouw report.
Over the past 12 years the Dutch Tax Authority incorrectly paid out 24 billion euros in allowances. The majority of this amount was recovered, but 1.5 billion euros is still outstanding and the Tax Authority wrote 806 million euros off as "irrecoverable", according to figures requested by Nieuws en Co and Nieuwsuur.
Since 2005, the Tax Authority paid out 150 billion euros in childcare allowance, rent allowance, healthcare allowance, and child-related budget. 16 percent of these payments, involving an amount of 24 billion euros, were wrongly paid.
The Dutch data protection authority AP is investigating possible ethnic profiling by the Tax Authority. There are indications that the Tax Authority used information about people's second nationality to determine whose childcare allowance was halted, RTL Nieuws and Trouw report.
The Dutch Tax Authority acted contrary to the Convention on the Rights of the Child when it discontinued the childcare allowance of over 200 families in 2014. The tax office did not adequately take the interests of these children into account, Children's Ombudsman Margrite Kalverboer wrote in a letter to the Tax Authority, which is in the possession of Trouw.
Forty percent of parents think that childcare is too expensive, according to a survey by social and cultural planning office SCP. What Dutch parents want is good, but above all affordable childcare, the researchers conclude, ANP reports.
The SCP researchers surveyed 1,800 parents of babies and toddlers. They found that many parents do not send their child to childcare because they find it too expensive. According to the SCP, those parents may not know exactly how expensive childcare really is and therefore have a distorted mage of the costs.
Single income families are falling behind in the Netherlands. Over the past years single-income homes paid relatively more tax than two-income households and that gap is only going to keep increasing, the Dutch office for economic policy analysis CPB said in a new report to the government. Single income households with children in particular pay more tax than similar two income households, RTL Nieuws reports.
With the new year starting, the Dutch government is implementing a number of new laws and changing some existing ones. Below is an explanation of changes to the law applying to families.
The child benefit, paid per child to all parents in the Netherlands, will increase minimally in 2018. Meant to help cover child education costs, parents will receive €201.05 for kids up to and including 5 years of age, €244.13 if the child falls between 6 and 11 years old, and €287.21 from 12 to 17 years of age. That’s an increase of less than a euro per category.
In 2014 the Tax Authority wrongly stopped the childcare allowance for 232 families, National Ombudsman Reinier van Zutphen said in a report published on Wednesday .The Tax office took this measure because of suspicions that the allowance may have been misused, but did not take into account the serious financial consequences the measure would have for the affected parents, the Ombudsman said, ANP reports.
"The Tax Authority left the parents in an impossible position, major financial problems and long term uncertainty", Van Zutphen said.
An increasing number of Dutch kids are attending daycare, according to a report by the Tax Authorities and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment. This has to do with the economic recovery and higher childcare allowance, but the fact that more and more mothers go back to work also play a role, RTL Nieuws reports.
A citizens' intiative to introduce basic income in the Netherlands in 2018 will be submitted to parliament on Tuesday. The initiative has 58,800 signatures, significantly more than the 40 thousand needed to submit a proposal to parliament.