Sunday 31 May 2020

Nearly 2000 families hit by flawed tax office fraud campaign – report

Photo: Depositphotos.com

Around 1,800 families may be entitled to compensation from the Dutch tax office as a result of its heavy-handed anti-fraud campaign, a report into the scandal has concluded.

Committee chairman Piet-Hein Donner previously said the department should compensate some 300 families who faced financial ruin after being wrongly accused of fraud, broadcaster NOS reported.

The committee’s recommendations include a further investigation by the tax office into whether or not the families were victims of prejudicial treatment between 2014 and 2016. Parents who can demonstrate they were included in the tax office’s ‘group approach’ should also be eligible for compensation.

Donner said some parents may have been adversely affected through ‘normal legal procedure’ but that the consequences of the application of  ‘15 years of child benefits’ are impossible to review and that only the worst affected could be compensated.

Payouts to the parents are likely to run into millions of euros, which is why the package will first have to be discussed by the cabinet, NOS said.

Investigation

The investigation began after a daycare centre in Almere and childminding agency in Eindhoven reported their concerns to the Dutch privacy watchdog AP.

The agency had noted that a tax office worker was keeping records about dual national parents, while the daycare centre realised half its parents had lost their subsidy, almost all of whom had foreign backgrounds.

The tax office has denied using nationality as a basis for deciding to investigate fraud. In 2014, 230 families were left in serious financial trouble after the tax office stopped their child benefits overnight because of ‘indications of fraud’. They were also forced to pay back the cash. Last year, officials admitted that fraud was a factor in just 27 cases.

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