Tuesday 02 June 2020

The VVD broke tax rules with four of its charity organisations: NRC

Photo: Joep Poulssen

The right-wing Liberal VVD has failed for years to publish the financial status of four of its Public Benefit Organisations (PBOs), an investigation by the NRC has shown.

Gifts to PBOs are income and corporate tax deductible and donors are exempt from gift and inheritance tax. In return the organisations are required to publish how much they receive in donations.

One of the organisations involved, the Ivo Opstelten Foundation, falls directly under the responsibility of the VVD party leadership headed by Henry Keizer. Keizer had to temporarily renounce the party chairmanship while the VVD investigates a possible conflict of interest concerning the takeover of a crematorium.

VVD-affiliated fund raising organisations in Amsterdam, The Hague and Utrecht also failed to provide figures on how much money was received. The requirement has been in place since 2014. The tax office has since taken away the special status from a number of organisations for non-compliance with the rules.

The tax office, which does not comment on individual cases, did not say why the VVD PBOs were allowed to keep their status but a spokesperson told the NRC that monitoring PBOs is generally ‘very labour intensive’. It is thought the lack of proper control, which is the responsibility of acting VVD junior finance minister Eric Wiebes, is costing the treasury in the region of half a billion euros a year.

At the beginning of 2014 the party, which had always been less transparent about donations than other parties, promised more financial transparency but since the Henry Keizer took over as chairman the opposite has been true, the NRC found.

Instead of more financial details, the party annual report is ‘designed in such a way as to contain less information about VVD affiliated organisations’, the paper claims.

Two of the discredited organisations published their figures after the NRC contacted them while the chairman of another claimed to have ‘forgotten’ to do so.

The party leadership said the publication of the Ivo van Opstelten Foundation’s figures ‘accidentally slipped through’. ‘We think it is of the utmost importance that the rules are strictly adhered to’, a spokesman told the paper.

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