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German Court Rejects Appeal On Tax Disc Use

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

27 February 2014

The German Constitutional Court of Rhineland-Palatinate has rejected an appeal by an individual who sought to challenge the use of data on a disc acquired by local tax authorities. The disc in question was purchased by the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate from a private individual back in 2012.

The disc contained information on German residents suspected of holding undeclared assets in a Swiss bank. On the basis of this data, the district court in Koblenz authorized a search warrant to allow officials to seize documents of the plaintiff to establish whether the individual had evaded tax on funds in that account.

The plaintiff submitted an appeal to the Constitutional Court, arguing that the use of the data contained on the CD violated his right to a fair trial and his personal rights.

The Court rejected the constitutional appeal, stating that the challenge was unfounded. The Court insisted that the plaintiff's right to a fair trial was not violated. Here, the Court pointed out that not only the rights of the accused have to be taken into consideration, but also the conditions necessary to ensure the functioning of the criminal justice system.

The Court warned, however, that there must be tighter judicial controls over the use of tax data discs in criminal investigations in the future. The legal basis for these purchases is unclear, it said, and pointed out that this means of obtaining evidence deviates significantly from the norm.

The Court's ruling in case VGH B 26/13 was delivered on February 24, 2014.

TAGS: court | compliance | tax | tax compliance | tax avoidance | Germany | Switzerland | individual income tax | Tax | Tax Evasion

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