General consultation on Tax and Customs Administration versus Message Box
The Dutch State Secretary for Finance, Eric Wiebes, in a letter addressed to the Lower House has gone into detail on a number of topics which had been raised for discussion as part of the general parliamentary consultation process on the topic of the Tax and Customs Administration, providing specific information, inter alia, on the procedures used by the authorities to monitor the “read status” of the Message Box messages they have posted, on the possibility for citizens to receive all future communications from the authorities in exclusively digital format, and on the retention period to be observed by the authorities for messages dispatched using the Message Box system.
The authorities keep track of the “read status” of Message Box messages. By contrast, no such monitoring takes place at the level of organisations that are hooked up to “Mijn Overheid” (the national government portal).
Digital mail only?
Although current technology does not yet allow a switch to be made to exclusively digital communication between the authorities and the public, Mr Wiebes has promised to look into what it would take to achieve this and how the processing of a choice in favour of digital communication only should best be catered for as part of the Tax and Customs Administration’s systems, and has undertaken to present a progress report as part of the next six-monthly reporting exercise.
The Tax and Customs Administration uses the Message Box as its digital mailbox for making formal announcements on topics such as tax rulings and tax assessments. As an indefinite retention period applies to records of this kind, the unread messages in a tax payer’s Message Box are preserved forever. The Tax and Customs Administration’s dedicated portals – such as “Mijn Belastingdienst” (My Tax Service) and “Mijn Toeslagen” (My Benefits) – are where those concerned will find the latest information concerning their fiscal and benefit-related affairs as well as the relevant messages from the Tax and Customs Administration. The messages posted to these portals will in any event continue to be accessible for as long as the term for objection, appeal, additional assessment or other proceedings remains open, i.e. for five years (each) at least. Any tax payer who is keen to secure copies of his or her tax returns and applications has the option of downloading and storing the relevant records on his or her own computer system. The Tax and Customs Administration is currently looking into the scope for providing access to tax returns dating back to more than five years ago.
Foster children and (fiscal) partnership
The 2018 Tax Plan has redefined “(fiscal) partnership” in terms of tax benefits and income tax, resulting in foster children for whom a foster care allowance has been collected being excluded from said partnership, as a gesture of clemency which is retroactively being introduced from 2017 onwards. It is up to the applicant and the foster child themselves to file an application with the Tax and Customs Administration in order not to have the foster child assigned (fiscal) partner status.
Dutch version: Algemeen overleg Belastingdienst en de Berichtenbox