Why are political parties in the Netherlands charities?

Professor Sigrid Hemels. Picture: Anja Robertus
Professor Sigrid Hemels. Picture: Anja Robertus

The Netherlands is one of the few countries where political parties are recognized charities, with tax benefits. The number of so called anbi's (general utility creditor institution)  in the Netherlands is growing fast. There are now 43,000. For the control, the Tax Administration has a team of only 40 employees.

Political parties in the Netherlands are anbi's, or general utility creditor institutions. The status offers tax benefits, but it also means the legal obligation to disclose figures. Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad recently found out some major Dutch political parties did not disclose their fainancial contributions that are tax deductable.

They then asked each of them to make these gifts public, which they did. NRC Handelsblad then asked Sigrid Hemels to comment. Did these political parties disclose the tax deductable gifts on purpose? Hemels, a professor of tax law at the Erasmus University Rotterdam, said: 'Many of these anbi's are well-intentioned. It's often volunteer work and something is forgotten. The solution is that the Tax Office (Belastingdienst) makes one web portal for anbi's. It takes a lot of work out of the hand and offers better transparency.' She points out that this is how it's being done in the UK.