The use of the payment reference
Whenever you make a payment to the Tax and Customs Administration you should have it accompanied by the right payment reference, or your payment will be refunded and you may well have a penalty slapped on you for tardy payment. The Amsterdam Court of Appeal in a 2008 ruling decided that given the sheer volume of tax payments and the automated processing thereof, the Tax and Customs Administration was both justified in insisting on the inclusion of such payment references and in levying additional assessments for failure to include the payment reference altogether or include the wrong one. The Supreme Court of the Netherlands went on to set aside the Court of Appeal’s ruling, arguing as it did that the outstanding taxes had been paid as soon as the amount due and payable had been transferred, without there being any reason for levying an additional assessment.
The Guelderland District Court when dealing with this matter assumed that the aforementioned Supreme Court ruling was anchored in a particular interpretation of particular Civil Code provisions in which it was stipulated that the timing of a bank transfer payment concurred with that of the amount due and payable by the debtor being received in the creditor’s bank account. Differently than the Supreme Court, the District Court argued that it had come to be standard practice, and as such had to be regarded as being both reasonable and fair, that payments made to the Tax and Customs Administration should be accompanied by the right payment reference in order for them to be identifiable, with unclassifiable payments being promptly refunded. According to the District Court a creditor should be as much at liberty to reject particular bank transfer payments as it was to designate one of its bank accounts, on exclusion of all its other bank accounts, as the recipient account to be used by its debtors. All in all, the District Court concluded, the Tax and Customs Administration in its capacity of creditor should have the option of rendering its acceptance of bank transfer payments conditional upon the appropriate payment reference being included.
Dutch version: Wel of geen betalingskenmerk meegeven?