Wolfgang Nolz, head of customs and international affairs at the Austrian Finance Ministry, told Austrian radio that the notion of suddenly demanding back payments was unique in European tax history.
The amounts to be repaid range from €5 to several thousand and date back to 2005. “It's barely possible to suddenly pay that all back in one lump,” Nolz said. Some 150,000 people are thought to be affected.
Vienna called it an “unfortunate move.” Austria's conservative finance minister Maria Fekter is thought to have addressed the issue with her German counterpart Wolfgang Schäuble some months ago.
A delegation is expected to travel to Neubrandenburg in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, home to the tax office responsible for Germans in receipt of pensions abroad, after Easter with the aim of discussing possible exemptions.