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Finance ministry takes back control of the tax office

THE NETHERLANDS. Junior finance minister Eric Wiebes has placed the tax office under direct ministerial control and plans to replace the organisation’s board with a senior civil servant reporting directly to him.

The shake-up come a week after Wiebes was heavily criticized for his measures to encourage voluntary redundancy within the tax service, which were seriously oversubscribed. That has led to a €70m shortfall in the budget set aside to pay for the reorganisation.

In a briefing to parliament, Wiebes said the tax service leadership has operated too much as an independent organisation and that there is a culture of keeping problems quiet. In addition, senior officials are poor at communicating and there is ‘too great a reliance on informal contacts within a small group’, Wiebes said.

Wiebes and finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem have set up a special committee to look at decision making within the tax service, which has been told to deliver its recommendations within two months.

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