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October 25, 2014

Dutch have best VAT discipline, together with Fins

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 11:55 pm

Are the Dutch goody two-shoes or do they merely possess a strong sense of civic duty? I’ll leave that for our readers to decide.

According to Z24 last Thursday the Dutch and the Fins are the best at paying their value added tax (VAT).

The European Commission compared the expected VAT with the VAT that was actually collected in 26 Member States in 2012. Finland and the Netherlands had a VAT gap of 5%, closely followed by Luxembourg at 6%. Romania had the largest gap at 44%. The average VAT gap for the European Union was 16% which translates to an estimated 177 billion euro in lost tax revenue. This lost revenue is borne by the governments and by the entrepreneurs who actually do pay VAT.

The way VAT works is that it is collected for the government by the businesses at the point of sale. It is a consumer tax, so businesses get to deduct the VAT they themselves paid from the money they send to the government.

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October 20, 2014

Houses of pension fraud Krol seized

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 11:53 pm

Celebrity laywer Oscar Hammerstein must have been out of the spotlight for too long. Volkskrant reports that even though the foundation claims not to have money to spend on legal counsel, they have managed to get Hammerstein (400 euro per hour) to seize two of Krol’s houses for them.

The foundation Vrienden van de Gay Krant (Friends of de Gay Krant, a gay paper) is being besieged by the Dutch Ministry of Education, which wants to get subsidies back that were earmarked for an online meeting place for teenage gays, but which Krol allegedly used to fund his other enterprises during his stint as foundation chairman. In turn the foundation felt Krol should pay their debt as it was he who got them into this mess.

One of the two houses is Krol’s villa in Eindhoven which he wants to sell for 860,000 euro, which includes a bar, a sauna, a hair salon and an obscene amount of marble. Financial gossip mag Quote has photos. The ministry’s bill is apparently only for 206,833 euro.

Krol’s party 50PLUS, who run on a platform of milking the young (read: poor) to give to the elderly (read: not so poor), have accused Volkskrant and AD of ‘damaging’ Krol. Considering that the man who allegedly robbed his employees of their pension funds has not been convicted, nor even prosecuted, they may have a point. On the other hand, the return of Krol in parliament to replace a sick colleague has led to an increase of projected votes of 50% in the polls (read: 1 seat) according to Maurice de Hond.

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October 15, 2014

Grieving parties must purchase software to fill in tax form

Filed under: General,IT by Orangemaster @ 10:44 am

Roughly translated the Dutch tax office’s motto is, ‘We can’t make it more pleasant, but we can make it easier’, which is often use to preface the exact opposite, as I am about to do.

Some guy’s stepmother dies. Besides coming to terms with the situation, there’s paperwork to be done for the tax office. Many forms have been digitised over the years, but not the one form this guy needs to fill out. In fact, some 140,000 people need to fill out this form every year, but its 27 pages. Our guy says he’ll need to sit down and spend hours figuring it out.

Nope, he can’t send it in digitally. For that one form, he needs to purchase software from one of two publishers who make it for accountants and it costs 610 euro. Our guy is justifiably upset and decides to write to Parliament because sending in most tax forms is usually free. After all the two companies that make this professional software are able to send in their corporate tax forms for free. The tax office didn’t think that people doing taxes for the deceased was a priority, but you wonder why they think it’s OK to force ordinary citizens to buy expensive, almost useless software to fill in one form. Politicians have said they agree, but changing the rules won’t happen overnight.

Tax office cock-ups are a great source of entertainment:

Tax office in Friesland refuses Frisian letter. You can’t talk to the tax office in any other language than Dutch for legal reasons, something we hadn’t mentioned back then.

Tax office tells woman to divorce for benefits. Taxes before bros, thinks the government.

(Link: www.welingelichtekringen.nl)

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September 20, 2014

The Delta Works are due for an upgrade

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 8:01 am

Delta works

Last Tuesday the Netherlands unveiled a multi-billion-euro, multi-decade plan to counter the biggest environmental threat to the nation: surging seawater caused by global climate change.

For centuries, the Dutch have battled the waters of the North Sea that have at times flooded large swathes of the country, particularly in its southwestern Zeeland province. After a disastrous flood in 1953 which left almost 2,000 people dead in Zeeland, the Dutch built a system of dams, storm surge barriers, dykes and other water-management projects, known collectively as the Delta Works, to keep the sea out.

But a growing population, growing industry and climate change have necessitated a ‘new Delta plan,’ Schultz van Haegen said as she unveiled the details in The Hague. A study by the Dutch National Environmental and Living Institute, released last week, showed one in three dykes or dams did not comply with current safety standards.

Wikipedia tells us that the Delta Works have been declared one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by American Society of Civil Engineers.

See also Dutch dike protects national archives in Washington.

(Link: phys.org, Photo of Delta Works by Coanri/Rita, some rights reserved)

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September 17, 2014

Dutch children call each names like ‘homo’ and ‘Jew’

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 6:31 pm
deltsblauw1.jpg

As young as eight years old, a report says Dutch children have taken a particular liking to swearing at each other using words like ‘homo’ (‘faggot’), ‘hoer’ (‘whore’), ‘marokkaan’ (‘Moroccan’) and ‘Jood’ (‘Jew’). Kids call each other names based on sexuality, ethnicity and religion instead of things like appearance or ‘bad’ clothing.

Teachers from around the country feel that the news has a very big effect on children, especially when they use the word ‘Jew’. Long story short, the Netherlands doesn’t have many Jews and has many more Muslims, hence the use of that word. I wonder if children of all backgrounds use ‘Moroccan’ or just white kids, and I wonder what extra meaning it has when they use it because it seems a lot of people are clueless as to why it would be a swear word, unless you put a nasty adjective in front of it.

As for ‘Jew’, the fact that Ajax football players are called that by supporters of opposing teams (‘Jews’ as a social-historical swear word for residents of Amsterdam, back when there were more Jews) reinforces it as a easy to reach insult.

Back in July the parents of a nine-year-old boy heard their son yell ‘homo’ ‘faggot’ at someone and made him literally pay for it.

(Links: www.dutchnews.nl, www.telegraaf.nl)

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September 12, 2014

Entire stock of Sinterklaas toys sold in one day

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 11:53 am

There’s already Sinterklaas treats in the shops, we’ve spent the summer in controversy with ‘Zwarte Piet’ and now in Ede, Gelderland, there’s a run on toys featuring the soon to be phased out black festive helper.

Online webshop Lobbes.nl based in Ede has sold all its Fisher Price Sinterklaas sets in one day. We’re not talking millions of sets, but the run on the toys did not go unnoticed. ​Fisher Price has announced that it will stop producing its traditional sets following complaints related to the figure of Zwarte Piet deemed racist by the courts.

What I’m thinking is in the years to come when the Dutch will be getting used to the phasing out of Zwarte Piet, anyone who has Zwarte Piet toys or decorations will make some extra cash. For all we know, they’ll import stuff from China if they’re not already doing that. And one day, a bit like gollywogs they’ll be seen more ironically that as actual festive figures.

(Link: www.gelderlander.nl, Photo by Aloxe, some rights reserved)

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September 5, 2014

Student takes selfies at every Dutch train station

Filed under: General,Photography by Orangemaster @ 11:40 am

Travelling after you’ve graduated is definitely a classic, but travelling around the Netherlands by train is probably not what most Dutch graduates have in mind.

Teun here took a year off to make selfies at every train station in the country, which is 400 train stations and you can watch the video of the results. Yes, it’s clearly used by Dutch Rail as a promo for student discounts with the train, but it’s still pretty cool.

For anyone who has never been to the Netherlands, there’s a nice pan of Amsterdam Central station at 1:06, followed by the very modern and quite new Rotterdam Central Station.

For the movie buffs, try and spot Haarlem Central Station, one of the oldest in the country, which was featured in a scene of Ocean’s Twelve with George Clooney on the phone.

(Link: www.froot.nl, Photo by Flickr user UggBoy hearts UggGirl, some rights reserved)

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August 31, 2014

Police hands out criminal records at music festival

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 1:43 pm

Dutch prosecutors recently acquired the possibility of by-passing courts for minor offences if they can come to an agreement with suspects about a fine.

Placing the public prosecutor on the seat of the judge: what could possibly go wrong?

Two weeks ago at the Lowlands festival, the prosecutor wasn’t too eager to explain to suspects what exactly the consequences of their choices were, Vice reports. The 119 visitors out of 50,000 who had been charged with possession of recreational substances were not always told that agreeing to the so-called ‘strafbeschikking’ (‘declaration of punishment’) would get them a criminal record, nor what the consequences of a criminal record would be.

Vice asked lawyers Juriaan de Vries and Christian Flokstra what festival goers should do if a public prosecutor offers them an agreement. “Always ask for a lawyer!”

And of course that is a problem if your options are to pay a small fine on the spot (now with free criminal record!) or to go to jail for a night while a lawyers are being fetched from their weekend fishing trips and miss out on the festival. It seems the prosecutor knew exactly what they were doing. In the Netherlands a criminal record can prevent you from getting a job, effectively shutting off certain career paths.

The public prosecutor’s office responded (PDF) by saying they didn’t understand what all the hubbub was about—in their view the suspects retained plenty of rights and had even had some of those rights explained to them.

(Photo: DEA)

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August 21, 2014

Man claims his drug lab was for research

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 1:34 pm

A 40-year-old man from Knegsel, Noord-Brabant is going to jail for five years for having built an underground drug lab. After spotting a manhole on his property, the police found a fully equipped drug lab with traces of MDMA and speed. Guns were also found on his property, and since the man had a prior conviction for growing weed and possession of weapons, he was given five years.

During the hearing, the man claimed that his drug lab was a ‘bomb shelter’ and a surprise gift for his girlfriend. He also claimed that he had found all the equipment in the woods and brought it home. The drugs found in his lab were from men who told him to hold it or they would kill him. And if you think the man’s lies couldn’t get any more pathetic, he also claimed that the entire operation was to develop a new medicine against Parkinson’s disease.

(Link: www.crimesite.nl, Photo: DEA)

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August 15, 2014

Oldest Dutch citizen passes away at age 111

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 6:47 pm
birthdaycake

On 14 August Egbertje Leutscher-De Vries, the oldest inhabitant of the Netherlands, passed away at age 111. Born on 22 October 1902 in Uffelte, Drenthe, she claimed her secret to a long life was eating a boiled egg every day for breakfast, a detail she told the media on her birthday last year upon receiving a telegram from King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima. She has also donated her brain to science.

(Link: www.elsevier.nl, photo freegeorge.us)

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