Opinion: Sensible decision (write-off tax debts pre 2006)

POSTED: 12/10/14 6:44 PM

The Council of Ministers took a sensible decision by leaving a policy that takes all tax debts from 2006 and earlier years off the books in place.

Former Finance Minister Roland Tuitt published the policy in May 2013. It triggered a remarkable advice from the Social Economic Council (SER) that claimed that the policy left more than 4.5 billion guilders in taxes uncollected. That number referred to uncollected taxes over the period 1976-2006.

Observers have noted that it is already difficult to collect tax debts that are five years old. Once they are seven years or older, chances for a successful collection are zero.

From that perspective, the policy is no skin off anybody’s nose, but there is still something to bring to our reader’s attention. Tuitt also pointed it out when he reacted to the SER-advice: the tax inspectorate is still harassing taxpayers for fiscal years before 2007. We even spoke with one taxpayer who was haggling with the tax office over assessments from 2004 and 2005.

Under the current policy, the tax inspectorate has however no business doing this. The government’s position is clear: no tax collection over 2006 or earlier years.

It is more fruitful to focus on tax debts that have not aged that much. We’re not saying that the tax office should completely forget about 2007 and 2008, but one may well wonder how useful it is to spend energy on those years. Better focus on 2013 and 2014 and if there is time left, start looking for the crumbs in earlier years.


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