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Man can keep €84,600 after tax office error

The Local · 19 Jan 2012, 08:57

Published: 19 Jan 2012 08:57 GMT+01:00

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The man from Saarland was due a tax rebate of €400, but received instead a bank-account-boosting payment of €85,000, daily newspaper Die Welt reported.

And because the tax authorities did not contact him to ask for the money back for eight years, a court ruled on Wednesday, it was too late and the man could keep the money.

The Federal Tax Court said the five-year limit on claims for restitution from the tax office applied in this case.

The civil servants who had failed to contact the man for such a long time after the overpayment could not do anything more to get the money back.

The man did not contact the tax office about the overpayment, but kept quiet – and can now spend the money.

Story continues below…

The Local/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

11:36 January 19, 2012 by The-ex-pat
Well now I know how long to sit on any potential amount before I can spend it :)............Subject to a nice new law now that is............
12:01 January 19, 2012 by lucksi
Using the letter of the law against the spirit of the law.

How much you want to bet that the law was supposed to stop claims against the state/tax office for errors they made years/decades ago?
12:52 January 19, 2012 by iseedaftpeople
The key is indeed to wait for any applicable statutes of limitation to run out. If government bodies can't be bothered to check their own accounting for errors in due time, then I think it's only fair that you get to keep the money after a certain time period. After all, the other way round, if you don't claim your income tax within five years, tax authorities can and will refuse to pay you back.

But again, if some government entity made an oopsie and transfered a copious amount of cash to your accout, do not think you can just blow the money right away. I know somebody who is on Hartz IV and his ARGE agency once erroneously transferred not the usual monthly 500-something euros to his account, but exactly ten times that... over 5,000 euros... they simply must have gotten the decimals wrong... long story short, he managed to burn through about 1500 of the 5,000 euros before the ARGE notified him about two weeks later... and he didn't just have to give them back the remainder of the five grand, but they also reduced his monthly Hartz IV allowance by about 150 euros for the time being to make up for the 1500 euros that he had already spent.
13:11 January 19, 2012 by starsh3ro
well yeah youre all happy that the law got check mate by its own, but did anybody think about that it doesnt hurt them?

the money lost to the lucky guy is just part of what we all paid before as taxes.
14:09 January 19, 2012 by freechoice
are you saying there is no auditing in the tax office for 8 years? sounds like a potential hanky panky for greedy people!
14:14 January 19, 2012 by iseedaftpeople

>the money lost to the lucky guy is just part of what we all paid before as taxes.

Fair point... on the other hand, 84,000 euros is less than a drop in the ocean compared to the ludicrous amounts of tax money that are wasted each and every year on all kinds of needless government expenses. If you care, the Bund der Steuerzahler (Taxpayers' Association) issues a report annually that lists the most gratuitous government projects and how much money went down the drain for them on the behalf of us taxpayers. It makes 84 grand seem like less than pocket change.
16:44 January 19, 2012 by zeddriver
Not to sure I would say he's a "lucky Guy" I would hope that was a sarcastic remark.

In my eyes he is a thief plain and simple. But I imagine in his own eyes. He probably justified his criminal behavior by pointing his finger toward to government and saying that they have done worse. We humans are experts at pointing out others worse behavior to justify or own.


As for it being a drop in the bucket.

It may sound corny or something from Confucius. But. The biggest avalanches are still made from individual snow flakes. The 'little stuff' adds up after a while.
16:50 January 19, 2012 by nemo999
Some people can keep secrets.
19:57 January 19, 2012 by raandy
I say sweet, way to go.
20:50 January 19, 2012 by joysonabraham
One official from thousands, is he the only one who made similar mistakes. There could be some cover ups for small amounts i guess. All in all many may be winning not so big lotteries without even paying for the lottery tickets.

It seems that the people who enact the laws must be super human to go through each and every wording, to see whether one makes another void, needs to imagine all possible ways their subjects interpret the law or use or misuse the law( is it really a misuse when the law never mentions using this way and that way is wrong).

We must respect out politicians a bit more than we usually do. I think if all these people were not vigilant and careful enough everyone of us will find some way around each and every law to get stuffs done.
13:34 January 20, 2012 by iseedaftpeople
to all the "moral high ground" posters:

wait till something like that actually happens to you. I'm sure not even half of you would return the money instantly. It would at least cross your minds how you could manage to legally keep it.
22:56 January 20, 2012 by zeddriver

To all the 'Moral high ground' posters. And said as a pejorative. That says a lot. I would think that being honest should be the norm. And dishonesty as lacking morals. I guess I'm old school. And out of touch with dishonesty as the norm these days. And being honest as something strange.

I have had a smaller version of this happen to me. I bought a bunch of garden furniture. Paid via debit card. Got home and found that they had not charged me for an item that was worth $150.00. I went back to the store and paid them. Guess that makes me one of the abnormal folk.
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