Guilt-stricken tax evader gives cash back

The tax office in the western German town of Siegen was delighted to receive a letter on Monday from an anonymous citizen plagued with guilt over unpaid tax from eight years ago. He or she enclosed €2,000 in cash.

Guilt-stricken tax evader gives cash back
Photo: Finanzamt Siegen

“Dear tax office,” the neatly type-written letter began. “In the calendar year 2004 I unjustifiably declared advertising expenses that I was not entitled to.

“Because of that I paid a sum of €2,000 too little in taxes and interest up until now,” he or she continued. “Since my conscience has been plaguing me for some time, I’d like to settle my guilt today and am enclosing the sum of €2,000 in cash in this letter.”

The letter ended, “With friendly greetings, a repentant taxpayer.”

It was addressed personally to the office’s head official Günter Michel, who was very pleased with the “donation” of four used €500 notes, the WAZ newspaper group reported.

“It’s an absolute one-off,” tax office spokesman Heiko Müller told The Local. “We’re just putting the money into the system for the benefit of all taxpayers as we have no idea where it’s from.”

The only similar occasion that Müller could recall was in 1997, when someone sent the office 20,000 Deutschmarks anonymously – though without an accompanying letter.

But Müller pointed out that though this donor might have an easier conscience, he might live to regret his actions. “It would have been cleverer to declare himself and then pay,” he said. Should the tax evasion be uncovered in the future, the unknown donor will be forced to pay again.

The Local/bk

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Germany and France extend Covid tax breaks for cross-border workers

Germany and France have agreed to extend the relaxation of tax rules for cross-border workers until the end of the year.

Cross-border workers commute by car but they can for now continue to work at home
Cross-border workers usually have to commute but can for now continue to work at home.. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini / AFP

The agreements between France and the governments of Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland and Italy avoids double taxation issues for anyone travelling across the French border to or from those countries in order to work.

During the pandemic, tax rules were eased to allow French cross-border employees, like their counterparts in Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland and Italy, to work from home without having to change their tax status.

The deals, which were established at the beginning of the health crisis in March 2020, were due to end on September 30th – and would have plunged cross-border workers still working from home because of the health crisis into renewed uncertainty over their taxes.

The latest extension of these agreements means there’s no confusion over where a cross-border worker pays their taxes until December 31st – for example cross-border workers who work in Geneva but live in France, who normally pay their taxes and social security contributions in Switzerland. 

Under normal circumstances, anyone living in France who works in Switzerland can spend no more than 25 percent of their time working from home. If they exceed this time limit, they would have to pay these tax charges tin France rather than in Switzerland, which would be much higher.

The agreements between France and Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and Switzerland “provide that days worked at home because of the recommendations and health instructions related to the Covid-19 pandemic may … be considered as days worked in the state where [workers] usually carry out their activity and therefore remain taxable,” according to the statement from the French Employment Ministry.

In the case of Luxembourg, days worked from home because of the health crisis are not counted in usual the 29 day limit.