January 21, 2021

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Privacy Watchdog rejects direct access to bank accounts and …

Privacy Watchdog rejects direct access to bank accounts and ...

The Data Protection Agency rejects the government’s plans to give tax authorities quicker access to Belgian bank accounts. This message De Tijd Friday.

Today the tax authorities and the court can only see in the database of the Central Contact Point (GAP) which bank accounts someone has. A bank investigation can only be ordered if fraud is suspected. Thereafter, the bank may be obliged to grant access to a person’s account balance.

The government wants to skip this time-consuming step. From now on, banks will also send the balances of Belgian bank accounts and certain insurance contracts to the GAP every year. This means that the tax authorities can check the balances in case of suspected fraud, money laundering, terrorist financing or for the collection of tax debts. However, the data protection authority rejects these plans in snappy advice.

Take action on complaints

“The design does not sufficiently show how a mandatory notification (…) is required (…)”, says the data protection officer. The argument that the corona crisis is an additional reason for everyone to contribute to health care and recovery is also rejected.

The advice is not binding, but it is annoying to the government. Citizens can use it to file complaints. The Cabinet of Finance Minister Vincent Van Peteghem (CD&V) replied that the council is being analyzed in depth to provide additional arguments for enlargement.