The Cabinet acknowledges that there was institutional racism in the Tax and Customs sector | NOW

The Cabinet acknowledges that there was institutional racism among part of the IRS. That decision was made in the Council of Ministers on Wednesday, sources confirm to NU.nl after a message from NU.nl RTL News. Secretary of State Marnix van Rij (Finance) still has to “puncture in it”. After the weekend follows the official recognition and a letter to Parliament.

Previously, Tax worked with a scam list that people could end up on for no good reason. Research published in late March showed that nationality could play a role in this.

Ministers also discussed the matter last week, but were unable to resolve the matter at the time. On Wednesday, according to Van Rij, another “good and cautious” discussion was held. He announced afterwards that a decision had already been made; The Secretary of State did not want to say much more about that. “We still have to poke at it.”

In March, Van Rij called the tax authorities’ way of working “reprehensible” and “discriminatory”, but did not want to talk about institutional racism yet.

This brought him criticism from the National Coordinator of Discrimination and Racism, Rabin Baldewsingh, appointed by the Cabinet. According to him, you are talking about institutional racism, whose policies and (unwritten) rules for institutions or organizations lead to unequal treatment on the basis of origin, ethnicity or religion.

The Cabinet is struggling with correct wording and legal implications

It seems that the government is struggling with the correct wording of the concept of institutional racism and is afraid of possible legal consequences, such as claims for damages. In addition, one will prevent the recognition from radiating to the entire Tax and Customs.

“It’s not about looting people now, especially not the IRS,” Van Rij said Wednesday without clearly saying the Cabinet would acknowledge that there was institutional racism among the IRS.

According to the Secretary of State, these were “patterns that creep into an organization” and therefore arose “unconsciously”. Van Rij also stressed that the issue took place in the past. “We are a learning organization with insight from the present. We will not be judged by the past, but we will not push it under the rug either.”

Institutional racism is a difficult issue for the Cabinet. It was not until 2020, under pressure from worldwide anti-racism protests, that Prime Minister Mark Rutte acknowledged that it was taking place in the Netherlands as well.

The tax authorities stopped using the list in 2020

The question is about the so-called Fraud Signaling Facility (FSV). Previously (as of 2010), the Danish Tax Agency registered around 279,000 people in this application without them knowing it.

Citizens can be put on the list for various reasons, including due to a risk signal. A study conducted by the consulting firm PwC showed that there were work instructions stating that certain personal characteristics had to be taken into account. For example, a person’s nationality may be a reason to assess the risk of fraud higher, but also, for example, gifts to a mosque.

A perpetrator profile was also created. People with “low income, (above) average salary according to tax return, usually young, often no tax partner, often male and often of foreign origin” were followed more closely. As a result, part of Tax looked more at personal characteristics than at tax characteristics.

This selection was made manually. According to the Danish Tax Agency, the working method can therefore not be fully reconstructed, and it is unclear on what scale the selection of personal characteristics has taken place. Citizens have also been put in FSV for other reasons.

The government is currently working on a compensation scheme

The scam list is reminiscent of the benefits scandal, even though it is a different system. Persons on the list were considered suspected fraudsters by the tax authorities for years.

This had major consequences for about five thousand to fifteen thousand people on the list. For example, payment arrangements and access to the amicable debt restructuring were denied. The tax authorities stopped FSV in February 2020 after the case was revealed by RTL News and Fidelity

The government is currently working on a compensation scheme for victims.

State Secretary Marnix van Rij (Finance).


State Secretary Marnix van Rij (Finance).

State Secretary Marnix van Rij (Finance).

Photo: AP

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