Tax evasion – Voluntary disclosure
The current tax case involving Uli Hoeneß displays the difficulties relating to voluntary disclosures and the strict requirements of such procedure in order to be exempted from criminal punishment. Even though the courts have successively raised the requirements during the last couple of years, the issue of “exemption by means of voluntary disclosure” has made its way on the politcal agenda and will surely become one of the main focal points of the upcoming German parliamentary elections.
After the failure of the new double taxation agreement between Germany and Switzerland and the the ongoing purchase of so-called “tax cd's” by individual German federal states one can expect further house searches and criminal investigation efforts by tax investigators. Aspects of tax law such as taxation of transparent/intranspartent companies, taxation of offshore accounts, legalizing illicit funds, voluntary disclosure and exemption from criminal punishment are of highest importance.
At the same time, the international pressure, exerted especially by the USA, on so-called tax havens is constantly rising. After it has publicly transpired in January 2013 that Wegelin, one of the oldest Swiss banks, has surrendered to the US agencies and has filed for insolvency proceedings. One may therefore assume, that the the American tax agencies will be encouraged in further efforts against Swiss banks. After all, Wegelin has agreed to store and to disclose tax information regarding individual customers to the American revenue services. At the moment several investigations against major Swiss banks such as UBS and Credit Suisse are going on. German tax investigators may also benefit from such information by way of the automated information exchange agreement between the United States of America and the Federal Republic of Germany.
Currently, Swiss banks are urging their German customers to declare capital gains to the German revenue services by means of a voluntary disclosure, in order not to face charges for aiding tax fraud. According letters have been sent to German clients end of 2012, as we have been informed by several clients. This affects all tax subjects that have an account in Switzerland; regardless if the funds in question have been properly taxed. This also applies for foreign bank accounts in case inheritance. Affected persons should anticipate considerable changes.
Following Switzerland's lead Luxemburg and Austria now are also loosening their banking secrecy rules. It is to be expected that the tax agencies and tax investigators will increasingly exchange information amongst each other and with foreign countries and that this information will be used to initiate criminal investigations.
We are at your service for any questions regarding these matters. Please arrange for a meeting with Mr. Gast, who is a certified specialist in the area of tax and inheritance law. He will answer your questions in a thorough initial consultation meeting. The service fee for such meeting amounts to 350,- Euro excluding taxes.
We will treat your concerns with strict confidentiality and anonymously. We are bound by the obligation of confidentiality of attorneys-at-law. For legal reasons in connection with the double taxation agreement, your tax adviser is not the correct contact person in such matters, since he might be charged as an accessory to tax fraud in the case of undeclared income. Such circumstances might void the generally applicable prohibition to seize documents from the tax adviser pursuant to Section 97 of the German Code of Criminal Procedure.
Should you be tax adviser yourself, we are happy to assists you in such matters. We dispose of longstanding experience from litigating criminal procedures in such cases.
Leander J. Gast Attorneys at law
Berlin: Schumannstr. 18 | 10117 Berlin-Mitte | Phone: 030 240 47 66 | Fax: 030 240 476 71
Hamburg - since June 2013: Neuer Wall 10 | Ecke Jungfernstieg | 20354 Hamburg
Fon: 040 822 15 - 31 03 | Fax: 040 822 15 - 34 91