Police investigate possible perjury in tax office benefit scandal
The police have started an investigation into possible perjury during formal parliamentary hearings about the childcare benefit tax office scandal, sources have told current affairs programme Nieuwsuur.
Senior officials at both the finance ministry and tax office may ‘not have told the complete truth’ while being questioned under oath, the sources quoted by Nieuwsuur said.
The decision to investigate was taken in June 2021 after a group of parents who were caught up in the scandal made a formal complaint, the public prosecution department in The Hague told Nieuwsuur. A decision about whether or not to take further action has not yet been made.
The scandal, in which thousands of parents were wrongly labeled fraudsters by the tax office, eventually led to the resignation of the previous government.
The investigation focuses on recommendations made in March 2017 by senior tax office legal advisor Sandra Palmen who said before the scandal became public that officials had acted wrongly and that parents should be given compensation.
But that advice was ignored, and officials continued to take legal action against parents who protested about their benefits being stopped.
Two top level civil servants told the parliamentary inquiry that they were not aware of the memo’s existence but later it transpired the advice had been discussed at meetings at which both were present.
That then led to the parents’ formal complaint.
MPs are due to debate the memo and the circumstances surrounding its disappearance on Tuesday.
Thousands of parents were ordered to pay back tens of thousands of euros in allowances to meet the cost of out-of-school childcare after they were deemed to be defrauding the system.
In many cases the accusation was based on minor omissions in paperwork such as a missing signature, but parents were blocked from accessing financial support, barred from applying for benefits in future years and denied any right of appeal.
Around 11,000 parents were also subjected to extra checks because they had dual nationality, even though municipalities have been barred from recording second nationalities in their citizens’ register to prevent such discrimination.
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