Thursday 28 October 2021

Dutch tax office restarts debt collection and offers to ‘help’

The organisation wants a more ‘human touch’ Photo: Bic via Wikimedia Commons

The Dutch tax office has announced that it is restarting actions to cash outstanding tax, after ‘temporarily suspending’ debt collection due to the coronavirus crisis.

The Belastingdienst Dutch Tax and Customs Administration, which uses characteristic blue envelopes, will now start sending reminders before beginning legal efforts to recover funds in 2022. ‘We will do all this carefully, keeping an eye on individuals’ and entrepreneurs’ personal and financial situation,’ added the department in a press release.

‘During the corona crisis, the Belastingdienst has taken as much account as possible of the extraordinary situation for individuals and entrepreneurs…Tax debt collection largely stopped from March 2020. But the restrictive corona rules have now been loosened up and economic life has largely resumed everywhere, and so we are gradually resuming debt recovery activities.’

Around 500,000 letters are going out to individuals and businesses with no repayment plan in place, reports NOS broadcaster, and each individual issue will spark a separate letter.

The Dutch tax department has promised to have a more ‘human touch’ in the wake of a scandal in which tens of thousands of parents were wrongly forced to repay childcare benefit, and dual nationals were subject to extra scrutiny. Many reported that the tax office’s actions brought them to personal and financial ruin.

So people who are due to receive several letters will also receive a telephone call, its debt collection manager Karin Christophersen told NOS.

‘After several days they will be called with an explanation, and an offer of help,’ she reportedly said. ‘We realise that the missed payments might have slipped their attention and that this can be a shock.’

Government coronavirus support measures for business stop on October 1. Some 270,000 businesses which postponed their payments will have five years from this date to repay backdated tax.

It has also emerged that the Belastingdienst from this month should stop sharing the personal details of people who asked to see their tax records or believe they were victims of the body’s childcare benefit mistakes, without their explicit permission.

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