The director general of the Tax Authority promised officials last year that they would not be punished for unjustly accusing parents of fraud and halting their childcare allowance, in some cases using ethnic profiling to do so. The Tax Authority confirmed to RTL Nieuws and Trouw that 'no disciplinary measures' were one of the demands three officials from the fraud department at the heart of this scandal made in return for their cooperation in the investigation. Their demands were met, RTL Nieuws reports.
On Tuesday the Ministry of Finance filed charges against top officials at the Tax Authority over the so-called childcare allowance affair. The tax officials are suspected of extortion and professional discrimination, State Secretary Alexandra van Huffelen of Finance said in a letter to parliament.
The Public Prosecution Service will investigate the charges. "It is important that the Public Prosecution Service looks at this," Van Huffelen said. "Hopefully, this sweeping step will help to justly close this chapter that is causing pain for so many."
The Tax Authority's investigative department FIOD has its hands full investigating hundreds of reports of fraud relating to the coronavirus crisis. "Malicious people see corona as a revenue model," FIOD team leader Martine Suijkerbuijk said to the Telegraaf.
Over 11 thousand Netherlands citizens with dual nationality were subject to stricter inspections by the Tax Authority than other Dutch people. Their second nationality was an official selection criterion to determine whether they were an increased risk of fraud, the Tax Authority acknowledged after an investigation by RTL Nieuws and Trouw. This is the first time the tax office confirmed that nationality was used as an "indicator" to make a distinction between Dutch citizens, according to RTL Nieuws.
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.
The Tax Authority is letting companies who can demonstrate in writing that they have run into problems due to the coronavirus defer on income tax, corporate tax, turnover tax or wage tax for the time being, the government said in a letter to parliament on Thursday, NOS reports.
The government is also expanding the guarantees for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). Henceforth, the government will guarantee 75 percent of SME loans, instead of the previous 50 percent.
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.
The Tax Authority suspended the provisional tax refund of 124,000 people in January, a significant increase compared to the between 79 thousand and 82 thousand halted in 2017, 2018 and 2019. Thousands of these suspensions were unjustified and many of the affected persons were only notified about the suspension in mid-January, when they should already have received their money, RTL Nieuws reports.
The tax climate in the Netherlands, and the room it offers for letterbox companies and tax avoidance, costs the world an estimated 22 billion euros a year, according to calculations by economics professor Arjan Lejour of Tilburg University, Trouw reports.
Lejour based his calculations on the average results of 10 international investigations into global tax breaks. He then calculated the Netherlands' share based on the foreign investments that enter the country, and then immediately leave again.
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.
People who called the Tax Authority with a query this year, often found it impossible to speak to a tax employee. The Allowances department in particular is very hard to reach, with less than two in ten callers being answered at the lowest point this year, according to an analysis by Nd.nl.
If there are insufficient employees available to take calls, callers are notified that the Tax Authority is "closed". The office wants to avoid long waiting times in this way.
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 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.
Tax Authority employees don't feel safe at work, union FNV reports based on a survey among a thousand employees. Almost all respondents report an unsafe atmosphere at the workplace. People who are critical about the policy are reprimanded by managers and supervisors, with some even losing their job as a result, respondents said, NU.nl reports.
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.
A Tax Authority building on Kloosterweg in Heerlen was evacuated on Friday morning after the discovery of a package containing a powder substance, the Limburg police said on Twitter.
The police are currently investigating what substance the package contained. The building was evacuated as a precaution.
A dispatcher sent firefighter equipment, and requested police assistance at the scene just before 9:30 a.m. The situation was escalated to a GRIP 1 at 10:10 a.m. That means that a commanding officer from one of the emergency services takes command of the entire scene.
Every year around 13 billion euros of criminal money is laundered in the Netherlands, according to a study by Brigitte Unger, Professor of Economics at Utrecht University. Laundered criminal money accounts for around 1.6 percent of the Dutch economy, she concluded,Financieele Dagblad reports.
The majority of this laundered criminal money comes from the Netherlands itself. Criminals earn around 16 billion euros in the Netherlands through their criminal practices per year. About half of that amount is also laundered in the Netherlands.
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.
The tax agreements the Netherlands made with Starbucks are not equivalent to state aid, the European General Court ruled on Tuesday, annulling a previous ruling by the European Commission.
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.