The former chairman of the Dutch Libertarian Party, Toine Manders has been kidnapped in Cyprus by the FIOD (the Dutch IRS) and is currently locked away in the Netherlands in complete isolation (aside from his lawyer), in an undisclosed location. He is being held for an extended 90-day period, the charges for which are unknown.
Toine Manders began his career by giving legal advice, through his company HJC, to young Dutch men who wanted to avoid military conscription. He helped roughly 6,000 men avoid being trained as hit-men for the government. The mainstream media jumped on this, calling them ‘refusal yuppies’, who used legal loopholes to evade their duty to the country.
After military conscription was suspended in 1996, Toine’s company moved on to help businesses avoid taxes through strictly legal methods. In the Netherlands, the combined pressures of income tax, VAT, inheritance tax, inflation, and other forms of taxation add up to an astounding 80%, according to calculations by Amsterdam professor Roel Beetsma.
Legal tactics of avoiding taxes are widely used by large corporations like Starbucks, Apple and Ikea, however, Toine Manders had attracted special attention from the government by running controversial ads that stated “Taxation is theft”. The ads went on to say that it was people’s moral duty to pay as little in taxes as possible, as the government is a criminal enterprise. Unable to hire teams of accountants to do it for them, Toine also tried to help smaller business make use of legal tax avoidance methods.
The first signs of government backlash appeared in 2008 when his radio commercial ‘taxation is theft’ was banned by the Reclame Code Commissie (Commercial Ethics Commission) on the basis of being ‘in violation of decency’, along with a defense of the social contract. For fear of losing their licenses or imprisonment, the radio stations were quick to take down the ad.
The next form of government backlash came in 2010 when his company was declared bankrupt on a claim from the tax office. The government ignored limited liability law, piercing the corporate veil, to hold Toine Manders personally responsible for the company’s obligations.
In 2010 the state bestowed further powers upon itself: requiring all trust offices to have a government license to operate, in the name of protecting the people of course. It is suspected that this law is what is now being used to charge Toine, in that he was running a trust office without their license, though the main office was located in Cyprus and not in the Netherlands.
Toine Manders has been the Chair of the Dutch Libertarian party since its founding in 1993 and was the party leader in the 1994 and 2012 elections. He may not have won a seat in parliament, but he has utilized his campaigns to make strong statements, such as that of using lasers to project of the word ‘bankrupt’ on the Dutch National Bank and throwing fake 14 Euro bills from a helicopter above the Vondelpark in Amsterdam, both of which received a lot of media attention.
The Netherlands has become a country where violent criminals can be free to go the next day, while others are locked away in a psychiatric ward for a year (after having already endured a year in jail) for throwing a tealight holder in frustration at the Queen enroute to a presentation about how taxes were going to be wasted the following year. It has become a country in which Toine Manders, who advocates the non-aggression principle, is at risk of missing the first birthday of his son because he is held in a cage by a monopoly of violence that saw their revenue stream threatened.
Toine Manders should not be confused with the EU parliamentarian with the same name, who has been living off of taxes his whole life.