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German State Rejects Tax Data Disc Purchase

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

03 August 2010

Following months of careful consideration, the German state of Hesse has announced that it does not intend to purchase records reportedly containing information on alleged tax evaders in the area.

According to Hesse’s Financial State Secretary Thomas Schäfer, intensive examination of the material has lead to the realization that the records do not in fact contain any concrete, usable information. Given the lack of inherent value, the finance ministry has firmly ruled out any plans to purchase the material, Schäfer added.

Initially presented to the federal tax office in Bonn, the material was subsequently transferred to the authorities in Hesse for examination. Since mid-March, eight tax investigators have been assessing the information. The data has been offered for EUR2.7m.

According to a spokesman from the finance ministry, the material concerns correspondence that had been scanned, although not sorted, from a global firm advising customers on opportunities for investment and tax savings. The material is believed to be abstract, non-person specific and therefore not relevant for the purposes of tax investigations. The mere fact that the state is prepared to consider such a purchase has reportedly led to around 3,000 self-declarations in Hesse alone.

Other federal states in Germany have, however, elected to purchase tax data discs made available to them. Most recently, tax authorities in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein were reportedly offered a tax data disc, allegedly containing information on around a hundred German clients suspected of having evaded taxes through accounts with Liechtenstein Landesbank (LLB), amounting to an estimated EUR500m.

It is believed that the authorities in Kiel intend to purchase the disc following sample analysis of the data. While this has already been discussed and agreed with the federal finance ministry, a final decision regarding the purchase has as yet not been made.

TAGS: individuals | tax | tax avoidance | law | banking | Liechtenstein | enforcement | Germany

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