(JTA) — Belgium’s Finance Ministry has exempted dozens of Dutch Holocaust survivors from penalties for not reporting special pensions they received from the Netherlands.
The New Flemish Alliance, the ruling party of the Belgian state of the Flemish Region, led a reform in federal tax regulations implemented this month that exempts the survivors living in Belgium from the heavy penalties imposed on them.
The penalties were imposed last year on recipients of a payment from the Netherlands known as WUV, which is given to some Holocaust survivors by the Dutch government’s Pensions and Benefits Council. In letters sent to WUV recipients living in Belgium, the Belgian tax authority demanded they pay back the WUV payments paid to them since 2013.
Hans Knoop, a well-known Dutch Jewish journalist living in Belgium, has lobbied the government with the survivors. Johan Klaps, a lawmaker for the New Flemish Alliance, helped push the exemption reform, Knoop told JTA, with the cooperation of Finance Minister Johan Van Overtveldt.
Elly Blik, a Holocaust survivor and WUV recipient who has been living in Belgium since the 1980s, said she was “deeply troubled by the penalties,” adding she was not aware of the need to report WUV payments to the Belgian tax authorities.