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The Dutch Supreme Court has ruled that the national tax authority cannot use camera evidence to prove whether individuals have exceeded their company car mileage allowances and are therefore liable to pay more tax.
Under Dutch tax rules, company car users driving more than 500km per year for personal use must pay additional payroll tax, and the tax authority had been using footage from police-operated roadside automatic vehicle number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras in an attempt to disprove individuals' claims that they had not exceeded this limit.
The case progressed to the Supreme Court after three individuals complained that assessments made by the tax authority on the basis of such footage were illegitimate and violated their right to a private life under the European Convention of Human Rights.
In its judgment of February 24, the Supreme Court came down on the side of the taxpayers, ruling that the tax authority was not entitled to use such footage to enforce tax rules.
"The issue here is not about one or a few observations in public spaces, but the systematic collection, capture, editing, and storage for years of data on the movement of vehicles at various locations in the Netherlands," a court statement said.
"The additional tax assessments payroll taxes imposed on taxpayers should not be based on the ANPR data," the statement added.
The court dismissed one of the cases, and passed the other two back to the lower courts with the proviso that they cannot use evidence collected through ANPR cameras to reach a decision.
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