The Kingdom of the Netherlands, colloquially referred to as ‘Holland’, is known for it’s self-righteous lecturing other nations on their human rights abuse, corruption, in other words: their inferiority. Yet it’s also known how the Kingdom trampled Indonesia, how it deported Jewish citizens or helped deport them, and how it’s public institutions stand above the law of democratic accountability. But please let’s not go that full road now.
Let’s look at the Kingdom’s national tax office, the Belastingdienst, by means of example. There’s only two ways the citizen is allowed to hand in his or her yearly tax declaration: on the tax office’s paper form or, since recently, with aid of an unstable, unsafe digital program the Dutch government uses, for which each citizen is required to request a special admission number: the DigiD code. As the programme is malfunctioning, it’s not always possible to receive, let alone fill out an online request for this number. Been that road myself. Plus the program has been hacked by ‘Iran’ the other day and cannot be safely used now. So forget handing in your tax declaration online and stick to old school analogue paperwork. What’s the problem, one might say. The problem is: the Netherlands tax office cannot be reached by email or fax. It doesn’t allow that. Reaching it by telephone is, in practice, though they have a phone number, almost equally impossible. If the citizen wants to be noticed, he may write a letter, but since the tax office usually chooses to ignore letters, it must be registered.
Even then still no problem, one might say. Through the years I had to hand in my yearly tax declaration repeatedly, as the original one was, no doubt, thrown away by the tax officers. No problem, because in the past we citizens could reach them by fax. Since a few years, however, the national tax office is allowed to impose huge fines on those who hand in their declaration ‘late’. Say nine hundred euros. So the tax office has no interest at all to consider tax declarations on paper. Since the fax and email mysteriously disappeared too, the citizen is always ‘late’. What if the citizen can objectively prove his point! Gone is the possibility for extra revenue! Of course the simple fact stands that the tax office can by no means anymore than the citizen prove it didn’t receive the declaration, or that it was late, but those facts apply on the ordinary, non-official citizen only. The Kingdom of the Netherlands has never left it’s medieval feudal structure, where the monarchy holds a secret, unaccountable position of power and public officials are exempt from legal accountability, nor can they be fired. In China corrupt officials are executed!
What happened to me this year? Of course I couldn’t obtain this digital code, thanks to the primitive quality of our government’s programme DigiD, and had to hand in a paper tax declaration. And again, the tax office pretended not to have received it. So I used the only alternative: sent in a paper copy, which is, thanks to the Japanese manufacturer of my copier, of excellent quality. By registered mail. ‘We can’t read it’, was the reply I received, ‘if you want to avoid a fine you must hand in through DigiD or request a new paper form’. Then wtf wasn’t a new paper copy sent with the reply!? This is Caligula’s or Nero’s public service. Or the Chinese emperor’s high & mighty mandarins. The citizen was decapitated if he didn’t bow in a specific way, or didn’t wear his hair in a braid. This is not the world’s self-declared only democracy. Does the tax office want to receive it’s revenue in time? Then it needs the statements from it’s citizens and those must be free of cost, fast, without obstacles. So: no registered letters. No closed offices. And above all: accountability and third party witness.
Another note on ‘accountability’. ‘It’s the citizen’s own responsibility to hand in documents in time’, is the official verdict, a verdict meaning that only the citizen is responsible, the public office never is, but there’s another aspect to the problem. Own responsibility is a concept unknown in a feudal state now with the modern face of a total welfare state. It doesn’t belong in corporatism. In a corporatist welfare state it’s the norm to receive money without relation to a certain economic performance. The life basic that the one who wants something from the other, must do the first effort, is lost in a corporatist welfare state. The State wants me to file a tax declaration, not the other way round. One may receive money simply for being. That, in all candor, is plain & simple corruption. The cause behind the deep economic and, moreover, spiritual, philosophical crisis of the West and especially one of it’s most extremist corpocracies: the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Last but not least: my reply. I handed in my tax declaration. I’m not sending it in again, they have to settle with what they’ve got. And why not? It’s not an informal personal ledger, it’s an excellent copy of their own fxx paper form… so it’s this or nothing.