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Ymre Schuurmans on racial profiling at Dutch tax office

It was already clear that the Dutch tax office had been working with black lists for years, containing the names of people who, according to the authorities, had a high risk of committing fraud. But reports by research agency PwC make it clear how systematically the Dutch tax office discriminated when determining who belonged on that list.

‘It’s remarkable that State Secretary Van Rij [for tax affairs and the tax administration] acknowledges that there is discrimination at the tax authorities’, says Professor of Constitutional and Administration Law Ymre Schuurmans on Dutch news programme Nieuwsuur. Discrimination is prohibited. According to her, the question is now who takes responsibility for this profiling.

The profiling took place based on personal characteristics, nationality and age. Even ‘gits to mosques’ were taken into account. The consequences are considerable. People who, correctly or incorrectly, were made the subject of a fraud investigation, were no longer eligible for help in dealing with debts or ended up with financial problems.

When conducting fraud investigations, the authorities are not allowed to look at religion, ethnicity and sexual orientation, for example, says Schuurmans. Technically speaking, ‘donating to a mosque’ is not the same as religion, but the chance that someone who donates to a mosque is Muslim is great. So, according to Schuurmans, this is ‘very close to selecting on the basis of religion’.

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