Jan 20, 2023 at 6:57 PMUpdate: 31 minutes ago
The Tax and Customs Administration says it has only used discriminatory data files and risk profiles since 2013 to detect childcare allowance fraud. The tax authorities are faced with a benefit parent who claims to have been discriminated against before that time because of her origin.
The parent’s complaint was dealt with on Friday at the Board of Human Rights. The woman says that she and her husband were discriminated against between 2008 and 2012 because of their Moroccan origin. She wants the Tax and Customs Administration to recognize this.
The Tax and Customs Administration admits that the treatment of the benefit parent was “not acceptable”. That is why the woman also received compensation.
But the tax authorities add that the treatment was not related to discrimination on the basis of origin. All customers of the childminder agency used by the woman would have been checked extra. It would not be a factor that the childminder agency, as the woman says, only had people with a migration background as clients.
The tax authorities have been checking victims on the basis of origin since 2004
Trouw and RTL Nieuws revealed in 2019 that since 2004 the tax authorities have wrongly classified thousands of parents who received childcare allowance as fraudsters. It also turned out that this was done on the basis of personal characteristics rather than tax risks.
During the hearing, the Board asked whether the Tax and Customs Administration can guarantee that the tax authorities did not use systems and lists prior to 2013 that discriminated on the basis of origin or nationality. After its own investigation, the Tax and Customs Administration replied that it had not found any indications for this.
‘Are discriminatory systems lacking until 2013 implausible’
Juliette Bonneur, who legally assists the duped benefit parent on behalf of anti-discrimination agency RADAR, had doubts about the argument of the Tax and Customs Administration during the hearing. The lawyer called it “incredible” that the working methods and systems of the tax authorities had suddenly changed completely from 2013.
“It is up to the Tax and Customs Administration to do this,” Bonneur told NU.nl shortly after the session. “Let them prove there that they did not discriminate until 2013, because they did not do that enough today.”
According to Bonneur, employees of the tax authorities have also made discriminatory remarks about people with a bicultural background in the case of the benefit parent. This would also have happened with regard to six other benefit parents whom the lawyer assists.
The Tax and Customs Administration contested this during the hearing. A spokesperson could not be reached for comment after the hearing.
The tax authorities wrongly reclaimed tens of thousands of euros from victims
Prior to the hearing, the visibly emotionally affected benefit parent, Bonneur and the representatives of the Tax and Customs Administration shook hands. “This is not personal,” the woman told the tax authorities. Both parties also engaged in informal talks during the intermission of the hearing.
But the duped benefit parent emphasized during the hearing that the behavior of the Tax and Customs Administration has caused her and her family a lot of suffering. The family suddenly had to unjustly pay back tens of thousands of euros in childcare allowance. That led to stress and financial problems.
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Benefit parents are stronger after the Board’s own research
The tax authorities must demonstrate that they have not discriminated against every complaint to the College for Human Rights about the approach to benefit fraud. In September, the independent regulator concluded after its own investigation that the Tax and Customs Administration had made a structural distinction based on origin in the benefits scandal.
That is why benefit parents no longer have to prove to the supervisor that they have been discriminated against. “It is mainly the Tax and Customs Administration that has to explain things here”, the Board said at the start of the session.
Cabinet recognizes Board judgements
The judgments of the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights are not binding. Nor can the regulator impose damages or penalties.
However, a judgment of the Board carries a lot of weight in decisions by the court. The government has also promised in 2020 that the Tax and Customs Administration will recognize and follow up on the Board’s judgments.
The supervisor will let you know within three weeks whether a second hearing will follow. A spokesperson calls the complaint “a spicy matter”, but is pleased that both parties have been able to tell their story.
“This complaint has been going on for two years,” said Bonneur on behalf of the affected benefit parent. “She would now like a quick conclusion.”
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Discrimination and racismInlandBenefits scandal
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