The information decision
Under the General State Taxes Act (Section 47 et seq.), the tax authorities have far-reaching powers when it comes to requiring information and data and inspecting books and records. Those powers can be enforced at law (subject to a civil-law penalty). The failure to fulfil the statutory obligation to provide information may have far-reaching implications. For example, the burden of proof in tax proceedings may be reversed and increased (Sections 27e and 52a, General State Taxes Act) or an investigation under criminal tax law may be initiated.
Until 2011, tax courts could not review the lawfulness of a request made by the tax authorities to provide information, so that no objection could be made to it. Since mid-2011, this has been possible, owing to the introduction of the information decision.
If you feel that a request from the tax authorities to provide them with information goes too far, you may refuse to comply. If the tax authorities wish to attach consequences to any such refusal by reversing the burden of proof, they must first issue an information decision. Subsequently, that decision offers access to a tax court, in order to have the request reviewed. In this way, clarity can be obtained about the lawfulness and scope of a request to provide information before tax is assessed.
Information-decision proceedings are separate proceedings, which may as such be part of a more comprehensive tax inspection or of tax proceedings. Conducting proceedings challenging an information decision is also specialist work, with which we’ve gained ample experience.
Please be aware that, in addition to issuing an information decision, the tax authorities still also always have the option of enforcing the disclosure of information through civil-law proceedings (preliminary relief proceedings). We’re also experts in conducting this type of proceedings.
In this connection, we would refer you to the “De informatiebeschikking”which was authored by our former colleagues Roel Kerckhoffs and Gabriëlla Ulrich. In this brochure, they explain the ins and outs of this relatively new type of decision, providing a complete and inspiring ‘encyclopaedia’ for the tax practice. The brochure is not tailored to the questions and issues playing a role in your specific proceedings. However, our team is available to you in this respect.
In a nutshell
Section 47 et seq., General State Taxes Act (AWR)
The tax authorities
Statutory obligation to provide information
Investigation under criminal tax law
Knowledge articles on this topic (in Dutch)
Informatiebeschikking; cautie; door schending verschoningsrecht verkregen informatie. Annotatie NLF 2021/1109
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