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2_3_DiscoverBenelux_Issue14_January2015_Scan Magazine 1 26/01/2015 19:17 Page 42

A taxing history TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK  |  PHOTOS: BELASTING & DOUANE MUSEUM

Why do we pay taxes? Since when does a part of our income go to the taxman, and where does it end up? These and other questions are answered in the interesting and interactive Belasting & Douane Museum, taking you on a revealing journey through a thousand years of Dutch tax history. Through  unique  documents,  historic  objects, artworks and compelling stories, visitors to the Belasting & Douane Museum in Rotterdam (Tax & Customs Museum) can explore the historical development of taxes. The permanent exhibition Trust and Justice shows the importance of a good relationship between government and the public, based on mutual trust and compliance. “Tax is a subject that touches everyone,” says Anne Houk de Jong who works at the museum. “We expect the government to spend our money wisely, but as you’ll see in the museum, history shows that the balance  between  expectations  and  willingness is sometimes severely put to the test.” Two  years  ago  the  permanent  exhibition

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was  updated  with  many  new  themes, modern art, interactive displays and a new discovery  route  for  children.  “We  are housed  in  two  beautiful  historical  buildings, many visitors are surprised how modern it is inside and also by the museum’s variety.  There  is  something  for  everyone, from experts to kids, from schools to families,” she continues. In the Tiende Penning Theater, for example,  it  is  revealed  how  the  16th  century Dutch Revolt can be seen as a tax war; the Tax ceiling shows where our money actually  ends  up;  there  is  a  listening  Ear  to speak your mind on tax issues, and at the Heart you can monitor your ideal tax system. De Jong adds: “We also show examples of tax avoidance or evasion, such as tax havens.” An important part of the museum is dedicated to customs and border control. The world of customs is revealed through uniforms,  quality  control  and  measuring  instruments (for example for wheat, alcohol or  silver),  contraband  and  other  objects

and videos that show the risks and illegality of smuggling.  “What  is  and  isn’t  allowed  is  not  always clear-cut: think about fake branded clothing,  copied  film  DVDs  or  protected  animals,” says De Jong. The museum tries to make  people  more  aware  of  this,  especially  when  travelling.  “Through  Schiphol airport the subject really appeals to everyone,”  she  adds.  “Even  to  children,  who can  check  bags  at  the  Museum’s DouaneDek. Dutch illustrator Charlotte Dematons  created  a  giant  Schiphol  picture book, full of travellers, luggage, smugglers, customs  officers,  tracker  dogs,  contraband, souvenirs… revealing all the hidden items.” The museum is open daily apart from Mondays. Adults pay €5.50 and museumkaart holders,  schools,  students,  and  children under 18 go free. www.bdmuseum.nl

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Discover Benelux, Issue 14, February 2015  

Promoting Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg and France.

Discover Benelux, Issue 14, February 2015  

Promoting Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg and France.