Criminal law does not allow prosecution of tax authorities in benefits scandal: court

The tax administration will not be prosecuted for the childcare allowance scandal. The Hague Court of Appeal issued the decision on Wednesday in a complaint procedure. According to the court, the criminal law does not offer the possibility of continuing the service despite the “unprecedented injustice” done to the victims.

Many victims filed complaints against the tax administration, accusing the service of professional discrimination, extortion and coercion by abuse of authority. The Public Prosecutor’s Office (OM) decided not to prosecute, after which many plaintiffs went to the Court of Appeal with an Article 12 procedure to impose a prosecution. According to them, there is enough evidence.

The OM found that the tax administration had not committed any criminal offence. The service also enjoys criminal immunity, OM said at the time.

According to the Court of Appeal, there is a “reasonable suspicion” that the tax administration is guilty of professional discrimination. But his criminal immunity stands in the way of criminal prosecution, the court heard. For the other points in the statement, there is insufficient evidence for a successful prosecution, even outside of the issue of immunity, the court said. And the professional discriminations which would have been committed before 2016 are prescribed, specified the court.

In its decision, the court said that “the grant case has caused a lot of suffering to parents and their children and the impact on their lives has been great. Strict regulations, strict interpretation of the law and lack of of human contact have done them an unprecedented injustice.

The cabinet, the lower house of the Dutch parliament, the national ombudsman and the Dutch data protection authority have all established that the tax authorities acted improperly and unlawfully. According to the responsible secretary of state, the service committed “institutional racism”.

Another case, in which dozens of victims filed accusations of racism against tax office employees, is still ongoing. Lawyer Anis Boumanjal said on behalf of the victims that OM is still processing their statements. “My clients’ approach to decorations is different. This statement was filed against individual employees who allegedly discriminated against them. They therefore did not act in the public interest and can therefore be considered punishable.

“I had foreseen legally from day one that the tax administration as a whole, including senior officials pulling the strings, could not be prosecuted,” Boumanjal said. “The tax administration simply enjoys criminal immunity. As far as I am concerned, the time has come to review these immunity rules.