The Committee on Actual Damages
If you were unduly required to repay childcare benefit, you will receive compensation from the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration. But does that cover your "actual damages"? You may have suffered other or more damages after you had to repay your benefits. The Committee on Actual Damages has been installed for this type of material and immaterial damages. This committee was instituted by the State Secretary and is independent of the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration.
What are "actual damages"?
Damages that total more than the amount listed in your final decision could include items such as:
- costs for help and assistance to your family
- mental health care costs
- financial loss
- loss of income
Not all damages can easily be expressed in an amount, such as the emotional damages you and your family have suffered. These too can be compensated.
How do you prove actual damages?
The Committee on Actual Damages can look into whether you are entitled to additional compensation beyond the compensation you have already received. You do not have to provide evidence for everything. You do have to present a plausible case that the damages and their amount were caused by the childcare benefit affair. Once this is clear to the Committee, it will recommend that the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration compensates the damages.
Letters, documents and invoices that you have already sent to the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration are already in your personal case file. You do not have to send them again.
Step 1: You have received a final decision from the Allowance Restoration Organisation
You can only submit a request for supplementary compensation if the Allowance Restoration Organisation has reassessed your case completely and has awarded you compensation. Only then can we be sure that you had to repay your childcare benefits unduly. And only then do we know which amount of money you have received already and what components that amount contains.
- that a payment in the Catshuis Childcare Benefit Scheme (€30.000) does not suffice for a request with the Committee on Actual Damages. The payment of €30.000 is in fact a first payment. After this payment, the Allowance Restoration Organisation will fully reassess your case. If you are eligible to more money, you will be paid that amount. Only then can you file a request with the Committee on Actual Damages.
- that there is only any point in submitting an application if the compensation you received from the Allowance Restoration Organisation is less than the damages you have suffered. This means that it is not always necessary to turn to the Committee on Actual Damages. Nor is it compulsory to do so.
Step 2: Asking for help with submitting your application to the Committee on Actual Damages
It is not always easy to explain in detail which damages you have suffered, or to collect important documents pertaining to your case. But the clearer your application is, the better we can evaluate your case. You should therefore make sure to have someone who can provide you with proper assistance.
A legal advisor can help you write down and substantiate the facts as clearly as possible. The committee will reimburse the additional costs of that assistance, within reasonable limits. It is not mandatory to seek legal assistance. You may also file the application without assistance.
Step 3: Complete and return the application form
Complete the application form for the Committee on Actual Damages. Your legal advisor can help you with this.
You are not required to provide evidence for all the damages with receipts and other documents. However, the committee requires the damages to be made plausible. It is therefore important that you explain your situation as clearly as possible. We will assess the plausibility of your damages mainly on the basis of what you yourself write and explain on the form.
It is helpful if you send in all supporting documents that you do have. This could include bills, letters or a doctor's report. There is no need for you to resubmit letters, documents and invoices that you have already sent to the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration. These are in your personal case file at the Tax and Customs Administration. The committee will also examine that personal case file.
You can indicate whether you would like an oral hearing with a committee member (see step 6) as well. You can always change your mind about this later.
You can send the form to the committee by post or email.
Step 4: You will receive a confirmation of receipt
We will notify you after we have received your application. That message will contain the case number we have assigned to your application. Use that number in your subsequent contact with the Committee on Actual Damages.
Step 5: The committee will consider your case
The committee has many cases pending, which means that your turn may not come right away. We will let you know when we look into your case.
We cannot say in advance exactly how long it will take to consider your case. This depends on how complicated your case is and on how many cases are pending at that time.
Step 6: If you want to tell us about your damages yourself ('oral hearing')
If you wish to do so, you can request a personal hearing on your case. This takes the form of an interview with a member of the committee and a support officer. During the interview you will have the opportunity to explain in your own words in what way you have been affected. You may also bring someone with you, such as a lawyer, a care worker or a good friend. We will take minutes of the hearing for your personal case file.
This is a conversation in which we mainly listen to you, rather than the other way around. The aim is to get the clearest possible idea of how you and your family have been affected. Such a hearing is not mandatory: you are free to decide whether it is something you want.
Step 7: The committee advises the Allowance Restoration Organisation
If the committee finds that you are entitled to additional compensation, it will set an amount and recommend that amount to the Allowance Restoration Organisation.
Comparison per item
The Committee on Actual Damages will compare your actual damages for each item with the amounts given in your decision. How that works is explained in this example.
"The Tax and Customs Administration has compensated you with €5,000 for material damages. However, you find that your actual material damages total €8,000 and you are able to provide evidence for this. In that case, you can ask us to make a decision. If the decision is in your favour, we will rule that you are to receive an additional €3,000 in compensation.
- If your actual material damages were less than € 5,000, there is no point in asking us to evaluate those damages again. This is because you have already been awarded € 5,000 as compensation.
- We evaluate each component of the damages separately. For example, should have you suffered a great deal of immaterial (emotional) damages, then this will not affect our assessment of your material damages, and vice versa.
When can I turn to the Committee on Actual Damages?
You can turn to the Committee on Actual Damages once your personal case file has been assessed by the Allowance Restoration Organisation. This means that you have already received a final compensation decision.
If you suffered more or other damages than those for which you received compensation, you can ask the Committee on Actual Damages to review your case.
Is there an allowance for legal assistance?
Yes. In fact, we recommend that you seek legal assistance when filing your claim. A legally trained advisor can help you write down and substantiate the facts as clearly as possible. It is not mandatory to seek legal assistance. You may also file the application yourself.
If you want legal assistance, ask your personal case officer for advice. The Committee on Actual Damages will reimburse the costs of legal assistance. This includes assistance from citizens advice counsellors or from advisors via the Legal Help Desk (Juridisch Loket). You can also hire a lawyer to help you, however, you may have to pay some of those costs yourself.
Since the beginning of March 2021, there is also a scheme that allows you to hire a lawyer to assist you, at no cost. This goes through the Legal Aid Board (Raad voor Rechtsbijstand).
What does the Allowance Restoration Organisation do with the advice of the Committee on Actual Damages?
The Committee on Actual Damages will issue a recommendation on your situation to the Allowance Restoration Organisation (UHT). The UHT will usually accept this recommendation, and make an official decision on the advice of the Committee on Actual Damages. If it is the Committee on Actual Damages’ view that you are entitled to additional compensation, the UHT will pay you accordingly. The amount of additional compensation depends on your personal situation.
Is there an appeal process if I disagree with the opinion of the Committee on Actual Damages?
Yes. The Allowance Restoration Organisation bases its decision on the advice provided by the Committee on Actual Damages. If you do not agree with the decision, you can object to it. The Advisory Committee Regarding Objections will deal with your objection.
If you disagree with the decision on the objection, you have the right appeal it in a court of law.
Members of the committee
The members of the Committee on Actual Damages have been appointed because of their experience in jurisprudence, law and public service. The members are committed to deal with the problems regarding childcare benefit, and hope to ease the damage and pain caused by this matter as much as possible.
The members of the Committee on Actual Damages are independent. This means:
- They have never worked at the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration
- They have never been involved in the arrangements and administration of the childcare benefit.
- They have no personal interest in the amount of damages.
The committee's sole interest is to ensure that affected parents receive the compensation they are entitled to.
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