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The tax authorities fined me for not filing a tax return, but did I have to file one at all?

Question:
 
I have been unemployed since 2006 due to chronic illness/long term disability and my only income is wia. Do I really need to fill a tax return every year? (I have just been fined for not returning my 2009 form in time - after been advised by the info line that I didn‘t need to submit one !).
 
Answer:
 
It seems that the tax authorities have invited you to file a tax return for 2009. If you are invited you indeed have the obligation to file a tax return. If you don‘t you will be reminded twice and if you still don‘t respond the tax authorities will estimate a tax claim themselves and also issue a fine.
 
Strange is that when you called the tax authorities that they told you that you didn‘t need to submit a tax return. Unfortunately the Court of Justice confirmed that you can‘t claim any rights based on what the tax authorities told you on the phone. They answer questions but the answers don‘t have to be right...
 
But as said, you must have received an invitation and two reminders, so three blue envelopes. If you didn‘t receive any of them you can object against the fine stating that you were never invited or reminded to file a tax return. The tax authorities will have to proof that you received the invitation and the reminders. But they have a stronger case if you did receive the tax claim with the fine meaning that your address was right and that you do receive post at this address.
 
There is not an obligation for everybody to file a tax return every year. Only if you are invited or if you know that you will have to pay tax. You can file a tax return on your own initiative if you are entitled to a tax refund. The tax authorities can also send an invitation if they know that a person can claim a tax refund. This may have been the case in your situation. They may have expected that you would be able to claim a deduction for medical expenses due to your illness or based on tax refunds which you claimed in previous years. If that is the case their kind gesture has now led to a fine.
 
Check if you received an invitation for 2010. Otherwise you may be confronted with another fine and fines tend to go up each year.
 
 
 
 
 
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Comments (2)
Comment by Janet on Thu, Feb 16th, 2012 at 8:33 PM
Thanks Arjan, the tax office send me requests every year - I have already sent 2010 and 2011. I don
Comment by Arjan Enneman on Fri, Feb 17th, 2012 at 8:35 PM
If the tax authorities keep asking you to file a tax return and the outcome is always zero, you can request them to stop sending you invitations. This will save you and the tax authorities unnecessary work.
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