Tax authorities and libraries offer digital help

The Tax Authorities, the Koninklijke Bibliotheek and the Public Libraries will work together to provide people with support in doing digital business with the government. All 800 branches of public libraries in the Netherlands provide free access to computers with internet plus printing facilities to conduct business online with the government, including the Dutch tax authorities

The Tax Authorities, the Koninklijke Bibliotheek and the Public Libraries will work together to provide people with support in doing digital business with the government. All 800 branches of public libraries in the Netherlands provide free access to computers with internet plus printing facilities to conduct business online with the government, including the Dutch tax authorities. Some libraries already offer this possibility, others will realize this in the coming months.

In addition to access to computers and printers, courses are given to teach people how digital doing business with the government works. Libraries are also going to invite civil society organizations to hold tax consultation hours at 150 locations for help with tax and allowances. The Tax and Customs Administration provides training for these social service providers. This is in a covenant that the organizations have signed today.

Digitizing society, but help for those who need it

Society is digitizing: Dutch people increasingly arrange their business with the business community and the government online, such as applying for allowances, arranging a trip or insurance or looking for a job. Services can therefore become even more customized and more efficient. This means, for example, that 96% of the declarations are already being sent digitally.

For a group of people, however, access to and use of the computer is not self-evident and the very first step towards digitization is often a big one. The Tax and Customs Administration traditionally supports people who are less able to arrange their tax or allowance matters themselves, for example through Help with Declaration, service provision through counters and the Tax Telephone. With a view to digitization, the Tax and Customs Administration is entering into cooperation with more and more civil society organizations and a so-called 'intermediary policy' has been established to support these parties. This policy is based on 'help the helpers': the Tax and Customs Administration provides information, training and resources that enable these organizations to provide assistance.

Naturally, the Tax and Customs Administration will keep a close eye on the exact and changing needs of this diverse group now and in the future, with help from the University of Twente, among others. The Tax and Customs Administration is in talks with various social organizations and service providers, including the Public Libraries, to be able to provide this assistance as needed.

Distance and costs

A library is about 1.8 kilometers away from home, and is easy to reach for many people. In addition to free-to-use computers with internet and printers for tax and surcharge cases, free digi-competence courses are offered at virtually all library locations, including dealing with e-government. In addition, more and more libraries will be organizing tax consultation hours in the period between 2016 and 2019, inviting social service providers in the library to help less able-bodied citizens to digitally arrange tax and allowances. Eventually 150 libraries will offer these tax consultation hours. The Royal Library fulfills a coordinating role in this respect, whereby it allocates the € 1.9 million investment made by the tax authorities in the implementation and supervises compliance with the covenant.