The Tax and Customs Administration is currently under attack more than ever. With the allowance affair, which continues to perpetuate and is far from being settled, fresh in the collective memory and a declaration from the Ministry of Finance that is at the Public Prosecution Service, the government body is historically in a bad state.
It is therefore not surprising that many Dutch people get involved in a conflict with the tax authorities from time to time. Very annoying, because the Tax and Customs Administration is a large, unwieldy organization with which it is difficult to enter into a conversation. That makes it not so easy to resolve a dispute. Moreover, the conflicts are of course always about money, so you will be hit directly in your wallet when such a dispute arises. How you deal with a conflict with the tax authorities once it has arisen depends primarily on whether it is a business or a private matter.
Private versus business conflict
The allowance affair is an example of private individuals who have come into conflict with the tax authorities. Chargeback recoveries have been issued, which subsequently proved to be unjustified. These are hundreds of victims, each with damage claims of tens of thousands, sometimes even more than a hundred thousand euros.
What is much less publicized is that much entrepreneurs conflict with the tax authorities. Self-employed people in particular are relatively often the spokesperson recently. In a large number of cases, this is due to the increased laws and regulations for self-employed persons. Such a business conflict is very annoying because you want to spend your time doing business and not figuring out tax laws. In addition, the Tax and Customs Administration is relatively strict with regard to entrepreneurs compared to private individuals: there is no warning in case of errors, but fines are issued immediately. Not wanting to pay such a fine is often the cause of a conflict.
Causes for conflicts between entrepreneurs and the tax authorities
The Netherlands has a complicated tax system, especially for entrepreneurs. Many entrepreneurs hire a tax advisor or lawyer to settle tax matters, but not every entrepreneur has a budget for this. Self-employed people in particular often do their tax affairs themselves. This is no easy task without specialist knowledge of tax law.
A small mistake is easily made and the rules for errors in, for example, your tax return are not tender. Often such a misunderstanding is the reason for a dispute with the tax authorities. Specifically for freelancers, a common cause for disputes is a difference of opinion about the status of freelancers. As soon as the Tax and Customs Administration believes that you are no longer a self-employed person (or no longer), but in fact have started working for a client, this often marks the start of a conflict.
Self-employed status is one of the hot topics about which there is much to do, also in the political field. The law Deregulation Assessment Labor Relations (DBA Act) must ensure that the client and the self-employed person are jointly responsible for the tax consequences of their employment relationship. Model agreements are available for this, in which that relationship is established. However, there is a lot of uncertainty about the enforcement of the DBA law, and the tax authorities foresee major problems with regard to accountability. This means that there are relatively often disputes about these employment relationships, with all the tax consequences that entails - usually to the disadvantage of the self-employed.
A conflict with the tax authorities - and now?
Although they have studied the relevant parts of our tax system and that they have tried to arrange everything accurately, many entrepreneurs in the Netherlands regularly encounter disputes with the Tax and Customs Administration. What do you do in such a case? Do you even have a chance to be right against such a huge organization?
First of all, it is important to realize that the Tax and Customs Administration is not always right - see the allowance affair. Now that is an extreme example, but small mistakes are also made at the Belastingdienst. It is and remains human work. If you have carefully done your preliminary work, there is in principle no reason to assume that the cause of your conflict with the tax authorities lies with you.
The second important realization is that a good relationship with the tax authorities does not do you any harm. So try to maintain a friendly tone and maintain a good relationship with the tax authorities, even if there is a difference of opinion. With the heels in the sand you rarely come to a solution.
What options do you have to still be right? There are three options available:
- First, there is the option objection to report an attack. Please note that this is only possible with definitive and not with provisional assessments.
- A statement from the tax inspector follows a written objection. He has reviewed the matter carefully and will come up with a well-considered judgment. Does this judgment turn out differently than you think it is? Then you can go against this statement profession go to court. Note: going to court will cost you extra money if you are wrong! So do not just take this step, but first seek advice from a lawyer.
- If you want to avoid going to court, in many cases - especially long-term files or complex issues - it is also possible to tax compromise to come. You hereby offer the Tax and Customs Administration to pay a certain amount and thus end the entire matter. The Tax and Customs Administration will only agree to this if it is indeed a long-term or complex issue and if both parties would have any chance in court. Even if you consider this option, it is advisable to first have a professional look at your case.
Get professional help
A professional - read: one tax lawyer - takes an objective look at your business and knows exactly which options are likely to succeed for you. That saves you time, and more importantly: no chance procedures.
'Take a pleadable position'
"It is very important that an appeal to a decision of the tax inspector is arguable," explains Mark Hendriks, tax lawyer FT Lawyers from Nijmegen. “As long as you take a pleadable position, you cannot in principle be fined or punished otherwise, even if you are ultimately unsuccessful. Many entrepreneurs are afraid to 'make things worse' and therefore agree to tax assessments, even if they may be unjustified. A lawyer is perfectly capable of assessing your options and opportunities and can therefore help with a pleasurable position, with which you run relatively little risk and still attempt to get you right in court. ”