Culture of Anxiety at the Tax Authorities: ‘Are not where we want to beyet’

The work culture at the Tax Authorities means that abuses are not reported and errors can be difficult to fix. This way officials don‘t dare to raise problems for fear of their careers. They are also not controlled properly because executives have no idea what is going on in the workplace.

As a

result, abuses remain unheard of, according to a new report drawn up at the request of the House of Representatives following the surcharge scandal. The findings not only concern parents in the surcharge affair, but may affect others as well.

โ€œThe report makes it clear that we’re not where we want to be yet. The outside and inside signals are the basis for the solutions we need,โ€ says the Tax Authorities in a response to theCCeit. However, the service says that steps have been taken and they regret that employees have not come forward before.

Tax phone

The report states that Tax Phone employees cannot deviate from the work instruction they received to answer people‘s questions. These employees are the first to hear the harrowing stories of childcare parents, for example. And when they raise the abuses in their executives, the report often gets the response โ€œthat the laws and regulations are so.โ€

โ€œIt’s a whole hierarchical organization, in which executives mainly want the work to be done as quickly and easily as possible. A critical noise or problems disturb that,โ€ says Marianne Wendt of Union NCF, the Tax Office and Treasury Employee Union.

โ€œThat‘s very much in the way of directing: they don’t want problems, no clogging. So it‘s very quantity-focused, leaving little room for quality.โ€

The

report also lacks knowledge in the Tax Authorities to solve problems. The tax authorities would consider cost savings more important than hiring staff with sufficient knowledge and experience to answer people’s questions.

Dozens of notifications

The report was prepared by two external lawyers after the surcharge scandal came to light. They received 55 reports within the period when they were investigating the Tax Administration‘s operating system. The Tax Authorities inform deCCeit that they are grateful to those employees, because these signals help citizens who are in trouble or are threatening to get in trouble.

The report further shows that employees are concerned about the compensation of the pay parents. It would be โ€œtoo generousโ€ for a โ€œsignificant partโ€ of the victims, because it is not always clear to what extent they are entitled to that compensation. But their executives do not address that and respond with โ€œthat is being implemented to political choices that have been madeโ€.

The external lawyers indicate in the report that they cannot interfere in that debate, but they do point out to the tax authorities that it must be responsible for citizens’ trust.

The report does not allow the immediate revert of errors, as the Tax Authorities systems are automated. Entering new instructions does not appear to be possible. The external lawyers recommend โ€œfinding a solution anywayโ€.

How farther?

The report provides various advice to improve the working culture within the Tax Authorities. But Wendt expects this to take time.

โ€œThat has to do with the unsafe atmosphere. It is not talked about and thus not learned from it. By the way, I don‘t have the idea that there are a lot of unwilling managers, so that’s not the problem. But it takes time and safety to improve culture within the Tax Authorities.โ€