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Germany's Opposition Challenge Tax Amnesty Regulation

by Ulrika Lomas, Tax-News.com, Brussels

25 April 2013


German Opposition parties have once again underlined their fierce objections to the tax amnesty provision in Germany's criminal tax law. The Social Democrats (SPD), the Green Party, and the Left Party all called for the regulation to be removed in the German Bundesrat, or upper house of parliament, following news that Bayern Munich football club chairman Uli Hoeneß submitted a voluntary declaration to the German tax authorities, regarding an undeclared Swiss account.

The SPD's Joachim Poß insisted that there is simply "no serious evidence" to suggest that voluntary declarations serve to prevent tax evasion, or that they "produce repentant sinners." Echoing this view, Lisa Paus of the Green Party called for the voluntary declaration provision to be toughened, to ensure that repeat offenders are not able to benefit from the amnesty in future.

In contrast, the ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Free Democratic Party (FDP) underlined the need to maintain the rule. FDP financial expert Volker Wissing argued that the provision in its current form is both "appropriate and proportionate." In many cases voluntary declarations lead to higher tax payments being made to the German tax authorities than would have been gained from a criminal tax procedure, Wissing maintained.

Uli Hoeneß submitted a voluntary tax declaration to the German tax authorities in January, in which he reported his Swiss bank account. Hoeneß defended his decision to voluntarily declare his assets, citing the failure of the Swiss-German tax deal in the Bundesrat at the end of 2012.

The tax accord between Switzerland and the Confederation would have provided for the lump sum taxation of old money held by German residents in Swiss accounts, at rates varying between 21% and 41%, as a means to regularize assets. The treaty would also have taxed capital gains at the same rate as applied in Germany from 2013.

The German Taxpayers' Association (BdSt) has reiterated its calls for international agreements to be concluded, to ensure tax justice and comprehensive rooting out of tax evasion. BdSt President Reiner Holznagel stressed that Germany needs a tax treaty with Switzerland.

TAGS: compliance | tax | investment | tax compliance | tax avoidance | law | agreements | Germany | Switzerland | regulation

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