What is the surcharge scandal?
For years – from 2004 to 2019 – the Tax and Customs Administration wrongly identified tens of thousands of Dutch families with childcare benefits as fraudsters. The first signs that something was going wrong in the fight against fraud sounded as early as 2012, but it was not until 2017 that it was on the political agenda. After years of political and official scheming, the entire Rutte III cabinet resigned in 2021 because of the affair.
Somewhere between 30,000 and 70,000 families have been duped by this Supplements scandal. The Tax and Customs Administration sometimes reclaimed tons of allegedly wrongfully received childcare allowance and fines. The consequences were dramatic. People lost homes and businesses, more than 1,100 children were removed from their homes and citizens who saw no way out fell into psychological distress and sometimes ended their lives.
Why the Tax and Customs Administration labeled people as fraudsters and initiated a recovery is not exactly clear to this day. The State Secretary has admitted that ‘ethical profiling’ was ‘broad’, but how broad that was (or is) and what it entailed is still shrouded in mystery.