Chermaine Leysner's life changed in 2012, when she received a letter from the Dutch tax authority demanding she pay back her child care allowance going back to 2008. Leysner, then a student studying social work, had three children under the age of 6. The tax bill was over €100,000.
"I thought, 'Don't worry, this is a big mistake.' But it wasn't a mistake. It was the start of something big," she said.
The ordeal took nine years of Leysner's life. The stress caused by the tax bill and her mother's cancer diagnosis drove Leysner into depression and burnout. She ended up separating from her children's father. "I was working like crazy so I could still do something for my children like give them some nice things to eat or buy candy. But I had times that my little boy had to go to school with a hole in his shoe," Leysner said.
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