“ It cannot and should not go so horribly wrong again,” said Prime Minister Rutte on Friday about the payment affair. And that is why we need a whole new system of payment, starting with the childcare allowance.
The precise design of this new system will not be clear in the short term. However, experts and those involved believe that swift steps can be taken to make the system fairer.
Eva González Perez, Advocate
In the short term, González Pérez, who helped to roll the case and assist ten affected, looks mainly at the officials involved in the Tax Administration. “When I look back at the past few years, I see that I have always had to deal with the same people. If that kind of person continues to work with the Tax Administration, I will not rule out a repetition of these facts.”
It seems necessary to her dismissal on a standing basis for these parties, also because confidence has been so badly damaged. It believes that the conclusions for civil servants should not be different from those for employees of companies. “If they screw up, dismissal is also the usual way. It can be said that ‘it is functions, it is not about the people’, but that function is indeed stuck on a human being. You can‘t solve the problems with the people who caused them.”
Another problem that, according to González Pérez, needs to be looked at quickly is the way of thinking of the Tax Administration. “People are seen as groups, it’s a factory process. Man is not seen. It‘s a group, it’s wrong, so you pack it up and put it in a box. And that was it. That line of thought must be taken out: before you end up in that box, you have your rights and legal protection.”
She says that in the affair the Tax Administration looked at the law only in the eyes of civil servants. “You shouldn‘t do that. These laws are not only for the Tax Administration, they also give rights and obligations to the people. When it was said: ‘we do not want legal certainty compromised, ‘I thought that was very crazy. Because then they said they didn’t want to change their system. Then the balance is not right: legal certainty is precisely for the people. The law was not too difficult for the citizen, but for the Tax Administration.”
González Pérez looks forward to the debate on the payment affair in the House next week. “I think that much more will become clear there.”
Peter Kavelaars, Professor of Tax Economics
In the Van Dijkhuizen Commission, Mr Kavelaars already presented a proposal on the reform of the payment system, which was not done with it at the time. “I think that a new payment system can be adjusted in two ways. This way you could remove the subsidy from the parents and place it at the shelter. If you reduce costs, then there is much less reason to provide subsidy to the parents. The number of childcare institutions is, of course, much smaller than the number of parents, which means that you have far fewer people involved in the system.”
Kavelaars also advocates that strictly individual circumstances should be taken into account less. “If there is a change in the personal situation of an additional person, this is a reason to adjust that surcharge immediately. That sounds very sympathetic, that you tailor the surcharge to the exact need, but that makes it very complicated and laborious.
“ I think you need to go to a ‘rougher’ system that takes a little less account of all these personal circumstances,” says Kavelaars. “For example, this is also done with a reference date for taxable capital in box 3, on 1 January. Then the situation of a person shall apply from that date for the whole year.”
Aytac and Azan Aydin, affected
Aytac Aydin thinks it would help a lot if the first point of contact at the Tax Administration were to have knowledge of the facts in the future. “We came to call centers, where there are people who do not have enough experience and that do not give enough thought to a solution.”
“ Call centre employees, external call centers, they can‘t help you anyway,” Aydin said time after time when he called the Tax Administration. “You have to hope that one day’s turn will come. And we were labeled as a fraud, so we heard that we needed another department and that we were going to get a call back.”
That turned out to be someone who was talking to fraudsters. “You are a fraud and that much debt you have to pay to us”, was the message. He could get rid of complaints about the treatment, but he had to do it online. The prevailing feeling was that thousands of others also had to pay off debts and that going to court was pointless. “At the Tax Administration, they thought they were untouchable, that was the biggest issue.”
The most important solutionfor Aydin and his family is now that there will be a quick compensation, in addition to the 30.000 euro compensation he has received. “I want to see the fee. It won‘t return my lost childhood years, but I can do the things I haven’t been able to do in the last eight years. I lost half my teeth because it was the cheapest to get them pulled,” says Aydin.
Mieke van Vliet, director FNV
According to Van Vliet, it is good that there is now recognition that things have to be changed, but the trade union director is concerned about its feasibility. “The situation is still such that employees of the Tax Administration do not dare to ring the bell. This is due to the large gap between people in the workplace and executives, for whom there is often a lack of expertise. There is still a need for a cultural change in this respect.”
According to Van Vliet, who has conducted research into working conditions and culture within the Tax Administration in the past, it is also important that there should be room for employees to look at matters individually within the legislation. “If there is a receipt or a signature missing somewhere, hard action must now be taken. It is better if a practitioner has the handles to be able to test each individual case.”
Van Vliet also sees the ICT systems within the Tax Administration, where algorithms are widely used, as a difficult obstacle. “These are algorithms that can no longer be traced back. Discrimination then lies in wait for another scandal.”