SP and PvdA in the House of Representatives want clarification as soon as possible about the possible concealment by the Tax Authorities of an important memo in the allowance affair. The internal document, written in 2017 by the highest-ranking lawyer in the Benefits department, was lost and accidentally surfaced in 2020.
According to RTL Nieuws and Trouw, the Tax and Customs Administration has received signals that the memo, which strongly criticized the approach of the Tax and Customs Administration, was deliberately removed at the time. MPs Leijten (SP) and Nijboer (PvdA) are outraged and want to receive all documents “immediately” from the cabinet.
A spokesperson for outgoing State Secretary Van Huffelen confirms that “a signal” has been received that in 2019 the Tax and Customs Administration considered not archiving the internal memorandum, the so-called Palms memo. Furthermore, the spokesperson cannot say much about it, because an investigation is currently being conducted by accountants from PWC.
‘Everything to the Room’
According to RTL and Trouw, a lower official suggested not to archive the memo. It is not clear to whom the official suggested this. “We are currently unable to determine at which official level this message ended up at the time,” said Van Huffelen’s spokesperson.
Member of parliament Leijten wants “all documents and indications that the ministry has that the Palmen memo was deliberately withheld to come to Parliament”. Then the parliamentary lawyer should work on it, she thinks.
Her colleague Nijboer believes that the investigation by PWC is “not a license” for the cabinet not to share the documents with the House. He wants them “today”.
Internal question marks
The ‘Memo Palms’ plays an important role in the investigation into the affair. The piece accidentally surfaced in 2020, after questions from former CDA MP Omtzigt. It appears that in 2017 internal questions were already raised about the approach of the Tax and Customs Administration, but that nothing was done about it. Lawyer Palmen called the approach illegal at the time and felt that the aggrieved parents should be compensated.
Before the parliamentary questioning committee, the then top officials of the tax authorities said under oath that they only became aware of the memo in 2020. But Trouw and RTL made a Reconstruction which showed that it was discussed on 4 June 2019 during crisis consultations at the ministry, at which both officials were present.
A personal injury attorney representing victimized parents announced Friday that he declaration is going to take action against top officials for perjury. They would have lied to the House of Representatives about what they knew about the Palms memo.