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Penalty proceedings and co-perpetrator's fines

Tax assessments may come with substantial penalties or fines (Section 67a et seq., General State Taxes Act). Has a penalty or fine been announced or imposed in your case? If so, it’s first of all important to establish the type of penalty or fine. A default penalty may be imposed for the late or non-filing of a tax return (Sections 67a and 67b, General State Taxes Act), or for the late or non-payment of tax (Section 67c, General State Taxes Act). Default penalties are subject to a maximum of about €5,000.

A punitive fine may be imposed in the event that the tax authorities are of the opinion that you intentionally did not file your tax return or intentionally filed it late (Section 67d, General State Taxes Act), that the tax due has been assessed at too low an amount on account of your grossly negligent or intentional acts or omissions (Section 67e, General State Taxes Act), or that you grossly negligently or intentionally paid not enough or no tax, or did so late (Section 67f, General State Taxes Act). In geval van “zwart spaargeld” kunnen de boetes zelfs oplopen tot 300% van het nagevorderde belastingbedrag. In sum, the interests are significant when it comes to punitive fines.

In general, the fine will be imposed together with the additional or supplementary assessment (by the same decision). Therefore, penalty proceedings are usually conducted simultaneously with the objection or appeal proceedings challenging the tax assessment. Nevertheless, penalty law, which is closely related to criminal law, has its own rules. This is particularly relevant in relation to evidence and culpability. In some cases, this may be different for the tax assessment and the fine. For example, in criminal and, hence, penalty proceedings, evidence is more likely to be excluded as having been obtained wrongfully than in purely fiscal cases, and another party's fault or intention regarding an incorrect tax return may sometimes be attributed, whereas this is absolutely inconceivable for fines. Furthermore, a defence against the amount of the fine (defence regarding the determination of the punishment) must be taken into account.

It’s therefore essential in penalty proceedings to have knowledge of and experience with both (procedural) tax law and (procedural) criminal law. Moreover, a fine is unpleasant not only because of the accusation and its amount, but it may also hinder you in your career or any social functions. Moreover, a fine is unpleasant not only because of the accusation and its amount, but it may also hinder you in your career or any social functions. In such a case, it’s best to seek the legal assistance of our attorneys, who are familiar with the ins and outs of penalty law.

Co-perpetrator's fine/participant's fine

In mid-2009, the fourth tranche of the General Administrative Law Act (Awb) entered into force. It has since been possible to impose punitive fines on co-perpetrators and effective managers (Section 5:1, General Administrative Law Act). In 2014, the options to impose fines were further expanded. Fines may since also be imposed on those aiding and abetting others in perpetrating an offence, and on instigators or accomplices (Section 67o, General State Taxes Act). In other words, knowledge of and experience with criminal law are also crucial in proceedings challenging a co-perpetrator's fine.

Since 2015, imposing co-perpetrator's fines has actually been getting under way. We’ve since gained experience with proceedings challenging fines announced or actually imposed on advisers, consultants and auditors.

Thanks to our years of experience with criminal law, we’re experts in defending ‘participants’. This means we can also protect you from the pitfalls ensuing from the services you provide to your clients in this case, such as conflicting interests or the invocation of a justifiable view.

In a nutshell

Tax assessment

Was a penalty or fine imposed?

What type of penalty or fine?

Sections 67a and 67b, General State Taxes Act

Section 67c, General State Taxes Act

Default penalties

Knowledge articles on this topic (in Dutch)

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