Friday 29 May 2020

Museums must hand over museum card info to tax inspectors: court

A court in Amsterdam has ruled that the Dutch museum association must hand over details about a museum card holder’s visits to the tax office, which is investigating potential tax evasion.

The association had refused to hand over details about three years of visits made by a woman whom tax officials suspect is lying about living abroad.

However, the court said, respect for privacy is outweighed by the public interest in ensuring proper tax collection and ordered the association to hand over the information within 14 days or face a fine of €5,000 a day, up to a maximum of €100,000.

The tax office first asked for details of the card holder’s museum visits in March 2017 but the association says it has ‘repeatedly’ refused to hand over the information.

‘We will defend our card holders’ privacy to the highest European court if necessary,’ the organisation said ahead of the court case. Not only is the tax office’s request an infringement of privacy rules, but using the card says nothing about who the owner actually is, the association said. Museum cards have only carried photos since 2017.

The organisation said on Thursday it would study the ruling closely before deciding what action to take.

The tax office has been pushing the boundaries of information gathering about potential tax cheats for years. In 2017, the supreme court said the tax office must stop checking car number plates recorded on police motorway cameras in their efforts to catch people who cheat on their company car allowance.

In 2014, however, the tax office won the legal right to require mobile car parking services such as Yellowbrick to hand over client details so it can check up on fraud.

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