Tax law loophole has Germans dashing to fess Up
by FFE EU News Staff
Issuing apologies seem to be a growing trend among the German elite lately.
Untouchables like feminist icon Alice Schwarzer, Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeneß, CDU treasurer Helmut Linssen, culture senator André Schmitz, film producer Artur Brauner and Die Zeit newspaper’s Theo Sommer are either owning up or fervently denying something they have all in common: they are all accused of stashing money from the taxman.
Berlin’s Free University law professor Markus Heintzen said that the series of voluntary confessions (Selbstanzeige) by alleged tax evaders is prompted by a loophole in German’s tax law. According to one clause in the law, tax evaders can avoid punishment if they fess up before authorities unearth their secrets.
Heintzen explained ‘You have to imagine: you’re a tax evader and you get a call from your bank saying the tax investigators are in the building and looking at things. It then becomes a race against time to contact your local tax office and confess.
‘It is crucial for the tax evader to contact the tax office before the investigators identify them — otherwise they can face prosecution.’
People can easily get away with tax by starting accounts in banks abroad. But pressure has built recently as German and Swiss authorities are considering exchanging bank information. This fear of being found out is what’s driving the rich to confess about their ‘missed tax payments.’
Despite their apologies, however, Schwarzer, Hoeneß and Sommer are facing fines after being convicted of tax evasion and fraud.