Incident 101: Dutch Families Wrongfully Accused of Tax Fraud Due to Discriminatory Algorithm

Description: A childcare benefits system in the Netherlands falsely accused thousands of families of fraud, in part due to an algorithm that treated having a second nationality as a risk factor.


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Alleged: unknown developed an AI system deployed by Dutch Tax Authority, which harmed Dutch Tax Authority and Dutch families.

Incident Stats

Incident ID
Report Count
Incident Date
Sean McGregor, Khoa Lam

CSETv1 Taxonomy Classifications

Taxonomy Details

Harm Distribution Basis

nation of origin, citizenship, immigrant status

Sector of Deployment

public administration

How a Discriminatory Algorithm Wrongly Accused Thousands of Families of Fraud · 2021

Last month, Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte—along with his entire cabinet—resigned after a year and a half of investigations revealed that since 2013, 26,000 innocent families were wrongly accused of social benefits fraud parti…

The Dutch benefits scandal: a cautionary tale for algorithmic enforcement · 2021

On January 15, the Dutch government was forced to resign amidst a scandal around its child-care benefits scheme. Systems that were meant to detect misuse of the benefits scheme, mistakenly labelled over 20,000 parents as fraudsters. More cr…

Dutch scandal serves as a warning for Europe over risks of using algorithms · 2022

Chermaine Leysner’s life changed in 2012, when she received a letter from the Dutch tax authority demanding she pay back her child care allowance going back to 2008. Leysner, then a student studying social work, had three children under the…

The Dutch Tax Authority Was Felled by AI—What Comes Next? · 2022

Until recently, it wasn’t possible to say that AI had a hand in forcing a government to resign. But that’s precisely what happened in the Netherlands in January 2021, when the incumbent cabinet resigned over the so-called kinderopvangtoesla…

This Algorithm Could Ruin Your Life · 2023

From the outside, Rotterdam’s welfare algorithm appears complex. The system, which was originally developed by consulting firm Accenture before the city took over development in 2018, is trained on data collected by Rotterdam’s welfare depa…

Inside the Suspicion Machine · 2023

Every year, the city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands gives some 30,000 people welfare benefits to help them make rent, buy food, and pay essential bills. And every year, thousands of those people are investigated under suspicion of committi…


A "variant" is an incident that shares the same causative factors, produces similar harms, and involves the same intelligent systems as a known AI incident. Rather than index variants as entirely separate incidents, we list variations of incidents under the first similar incident submitted to the database. Unlike other submission types to the incident database, variants are not required to have reporting in evidence external to the Incident Database. Learn more from the research paper.