De Tijd has managed to get hold of a number of PostNL Parcels Belgium papers that contain the names of subcontractors who delivered parcels in Belgium on behalf of PostNL. But these so-called trip lists raise questions, according to the newspaper. For example, a list from early 2019 includes two companies that had already been declared bankrupt in previous years.
Several firms on the lists also officially have other business activities, such as construction companies or pubs. Insiders tell the newspaper that a lot of cash is also paid out to the couriers. Some drivers wouldn’t even have a bank account. In addition, the subcontractors can subcontract and invoice each other for trips. Valid receipts, order forms, contracts, transport documents or even commercial correspondence are sometimes missing, says De Tijd.
A spokesperson for the Belgian Tax Authorities says that a special inspection service handles 29 files about courier services in Belgium. “Of these, 21 have already been settled, resulting in 11.7 million euros in assessed (claimed) taxes. These are indeed subcontractors of PostNL, for example,” said the spokesman, who does not want to give any further details.
A spokeswoman for PostNL Parcels Belgium, which is the largest player on the Belgian parcel market after Bpost, says that contracts with subcontractors are drawn up with “the expectation that Belgian law will be complied with, among other things in terms of tax and social security”. According to her, a courier is checked by PostNL “within the statutory framework”.
If a company is bankrupt, it must report this to PostNL itself. According to the spokeswoman, a recently bankrupt courier can therefore still appear on the daily schedule. “But that cannot take long, because the VAT number is checked at the weekly payment.”
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