The Dutch tax office has lost a case and been ordered to pay all costs after trying to make a woman pay €40,144 inheritance tax on money she never received.
The verdict, published on Thursday, involves a woman who was made the sole beneficiary of her father’s will when he died in 2017.
But although the value of his cash and effects, including a small chalet, came to almost €480,000 in theory, the woman – who has no savings and lives on benefits – has not received a cent.
She has spent years taking court action against the son of her father’s late partner, who was named as the will’s executor, but who has failed to pay out her inheritance.
A criminal case has now been started against the man, on a charge of embezzlement. The woman has also laid a bankruptcy claim on his estate, but judges in The Hague accepted it was ‘almost certain’ she would get nothing. The court heard that her half-brother told police that he had gambled away the entire inheritance.
The woman’s lawyer claimed that the Dutch tax office was behaving in a way that breached European human rights and the ‘general principles of good administration’ including the principles of ‘good care and reasoning’.
Mirte Jansse-Polet, representing the woman, also argued that the tax office was acting in breach of discrimination law and ‘the prohibition of arbitrary treatment.’
The tax office maintained that because the woman had ‘accepted’ that she was her estranged father’s legal heir upon his death, she still had to pay a revised bill of €40,144 in inheritance tax.
However, an appeal court has now found that the tax bill breaches European property rights and would ‘seriously affect’ and excessively burden the woman, driving her into poverty. So it has ruled that her inheritance tax is reduced to nil.
‘This is an extraordinary case,’ said Mr. Naber, of WEB advocaten, whose colleague acted for the woman. ‘Of course, with the childcare benefits affair, we see that the Belastingdienst [tax office] has been very formalistic. The humanity has gone, it’s about the letter of the law and that’s what we see here.
‘But a lot of resources have been spent when they could have said much earlier that they would resolve this in a reasonable way.’
It is not yet known if the Dutch tax office will take the case to the Supreme Court. However, it must in the meantime pay appeal court costs and the woman’s legal fees totalling €1,652.
Dutch News has asked the tax office for a comment.
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