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Germany's Lower Saxony Reaps Stolen Tax Disc Rewards

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

25 June 2013

Lower Saxony's Socialist Finance Minister Peter-Jürgen Schneider (SPD) has insisted that the federal state fully intends to make further use of data obtained illegally, to track down suspected German tax evaders with undeclared bank accounts held abroad.

Finance Minister Schneider stressed that recourse to stolen banking information has proven highly lucrative. The German state of Lower Saxony has so far purchased five tax data discs, all containing stolen banking data, for a total sum of around EUR600,000 (USD787,324). According to Schneider, the purchases have yielded approximately EUR148m in unpaid taxes, interest and fines. Schneider emphasized that Lower Saxony is expecting yet more revenues to flow. He noted that analysis of the latest tax disc, obtained in March this year, has not yet been completed.

Of the total income generated, EUR120m was yielded from unreported bank accounts held in Switzerland, EUR26m was derived from untaxed accounts held in Liechtenstein, while a further EUR1.1m was derived from undeclared bank deposits in Luxembourg.

Schneider underscored that Lower Saxony has also benefited greatly from the soaring numbers of voluntary declarations this year, highlighting the fact that as at June 11, 2013, 957 voluntary declarations had been submitted. This figure compares to the 1,200 voluntary declarations filed in Lower Saxony in the whole of 2012.

News that Bayern Munich football club chairman Uli Hoeneß submitted a voluntary declaration to the German tax authorities, regarding an undeclared Swiss account, has spurred taxpayers into action this year. The announcement prompted renewed calls by German Opposition parties for the voluntary declaration regulation in the country's criminal tax law to be removed.

While underlining the need to maintain the voluntary declaration regulation, Schneider nevertheless stressed the importance of significantly toughening the provision, to ensure that only repentant taxpayers involved in minor tax offences benefit from the mechanism in future to regularize their accounts.

TAGS: compliance | Finance | tax | tax compliance | tax avoidance | interest | law | banking | Liechtenstein | Luxembourg | Germany | Switzerland | regulation | individual income tax

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