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Germany's SPD Seek Tougher Action On Tax Evasion

by Ulrika Lomas, Tax-News.com, Brussels

06 February 2014


In the wake of the emergence of further high profile cases, Germany's ruling Social Democrats (SPD) have warned that the Government must now intensify efforts to combat tax evasion, calling on Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble to act swiftly and decisively.

According to Spiegel Online, SPD parliamentary party leader Thomas Oppermann argued that if tax evaders are now known in intellectual circles, this points to a much wider problem and larger number of unreported cases than previously anticipated.

Consequently, the Government must step up tax investigations, and revise the voluntary declaration of non-compliance provisions, which currently grant impunity from prosecution, amending the procedure if necessary, Oppermann said. Furthermore, the Government must forcibly clamp down on so-called tax havens, Oppermann continued, alluding to such non-cooperative jurisdictions as an "acute threat to democracy," given that society is financed by taxes.

Underlining the need for Finance Minister Schäuble to take immediate and resolute action, Oppermann insisted that the Government must "actively push" the subject of tax evasion on all international levels, as agreed within the framework of the Grand Coalition agreement between the SPD and its coalition partner, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party.

Finally, Oppermann stressed the importance of exerting greater pressure on Switzerland, to ensure that the Confederation agrees to an automatic exchange of information, as practiced in the European Union, as a matter of urgency. Here, Germany must win allies, he maintained.

Echoing this view, Germany's Energy and Environment Minister and SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel made clear that the Social Democrats have long since called for tougher action to be taken and for tougher sanctions to be imposed in cases of tax evasion.

The SPD's renewed calls for action follow revelations that feminist activist Alice Schwarzer and Berlin's State Secretary for Culture André Schmitz (SPD) both held undeclared assets concealed in Swiss bank accounts.

TAGS: compliance | Finance | Energy | tax | tax compliance | tax avoidance | Germany | Switzerland | individual income tax | Europe | Tax | Tax Evasion

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