Former Director of the Tax Administration Blokpoel has, according to his own words, suffered abdominal pain from the situation in the Supplements Service, which is the centre of the childcare supplement affair. According to him, “minor mistakes of parents” led to “very big consequences”.
Blokpoel was questioned this afternoon by the Parliamentary Interrogation Committee on Child Care Fees. According to Blokpoel, the affair, in which parents were wrongly labeled as fraudsters and had to deal with progress for years, had been known at the top of the service for years. Also then Secretary of State Wiebes of Finance knew about it, and Social Affairs probably also, he said.
According to Blokpoel, the concerns and a sense of impotence about the issue were more widely shared within his organization. Then why was it that investigations into the alleged mistakes of parents were not stopped, SP MP Leijten asked him. “I have said several times whether it could not be otherwise, but there was no room in the case of Supplements,” replied Blokpoel. In the end, he also created a picture that the law could not be implemented in any other way.
Looking back, Blokpoel feels jointly responsible for “a situation in which things have been performed so hard that it causes me abdominal pain”.
At the start of the interview, the former director said that he would appear before the committee with a double feeling. “As a former director, I am proud of some things in the service, but that everything is overshadowed by the misery that parents had in the affair.”
In the interrogation, MPs wanted to know how it could happen that large groups of parents who made smaller mistakes were massively labeled and dealt with as fraudsters. Blokpoel, who was director of the tax authorities from 2010 to 2016, sketched a picture of a period in which “increasingly zoomed in on the fight against fraud”.
Since the payment service itself did not have a research service, a special team was set up to investigate the errors with surcharges, the so-called CAF team. As boss of the Tax Administration, Blokpoel was responsible.
Green Left MP Van der Lee sees in the interview reports of this team – which were only recently shared with the Chamber – that Blokpoel often talks about ‘fraud patterns’. Blokpoel says that following the large-scale fraud involving Bulgarians who had been unjustly given surcharges on a large scale, the organization was increasingly receiving signals of “organized fraud”. There were also signs in the workplace that the tax authorities were unable to deal with these frauds.
He recalls that the evaluations on this team were often positive: even the expansion of the team was considered. That didn‘t happen in the end.
According to Commissioner Van der Lee, the interview reports show that Blokpoel advocated stopping surcharges, even if there was nothing wrong with it. But that denies Blockpool. “That statement sounds like something I could not have said,” said the former director.
Commission President and CDA member of Parliament Van Dam said that he did not find the abdominal pain that Blokpoel spoke of in all the documents. “With what image of your performance should we now leave the Chamber?” wanted to know Van Dam. “Is it true that the law in your eyes could not be implemented differently? But you wanted it?”
Blokpoel replied in the affirmative. He would have wanted that to happen.
Tomorrow, the interrogations of the parliamentary interrogation committee will continue. An additional interrogation has been inserted: the author of a recently surfaced internal memo comes to the committee.
The memo showed that the top of the Tax Administration’s Supplements Department was advised to offer compensation to duped parents from the payment affair as early as 2017.