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TAX

Tax officials ‘sniff out evaders with sixth sense’

Tax inspectors develop a sixth sense with which to sniff out those who stretch the truth in their tax declarations, a German scientist says.

Tax officials 'sniff out evaders with sixth sense'
Photo: DPA

“It is already known in psychology that for example drug squad officers use unconscious learning processes to collect experience-based knowledge of how to identify suspects who then turn out, after checks, to be drug smugglers,” said Enrico Schöbel, from the Institute for Public Finance and Management at Leipzig University.

“A similar experience-based process takes place with finance administrators dealing with individual cases,” he said in a statement.

Schöbel has just published research suggesting that tax inspectors have this kind of sixth sense, in the German language journal Perspectives of Economic Policies.

“Just as police officers mostly cannot describe how they can tell who a drug dealer is, tax inspectors generally cannot explain how what makes a typical tax evader,” he said. But as the bureaucrats work through a person’s tax declaration, he said, they unconsciously use their experience to form an opinion on whether there might be something suspect.

“The challenge is to chose those tax declarations which should be more intensively checked – because without a closer look the person might end up paying too low a tax rate,” said Schöbel.

He worked with tax inspectors across Lower Saxony for the study, to see how much experience-based instinct played a role in their decision-making.

He said there seemed to be a strong correlation between the use of experience-based instinct when deciding which cases to put forward for more intensive checks, and the success rate of catching dishonest declarations and increasing tax bills.

The Local/hc

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TOURISM

Is Leipzig really Germany’s ‘ultimate travel destination’?

The Saxonian city of Leipzig has been named by traveller’s bible Lonely Planet as its “ultimate” travel tip for Germany. Does the Local Germany’s knowledgeable readership agree?

The city centre of Leipzig.
The city centre of Leipzig. Photo: Jan Woitas/dpa-Zentralbild

Long a cult favourite among Germany fans, the left-wing city of Leipzig appears to now be gaining mainstream recognition after the Lonely Planet crowned it the country’s top travel destination this week.

In a new book titled “Ultimate German Travel Destinations – the top 250”, the travel publisher put Leipzig ahead of picturesque getaways such as Lake Constance and the Zugspitze as its number one destination.

“The hype that some say surrounds the city isn’t hype t all: Leipzig really is hipper than Berlin, and hotter than Munich, especially among millennials,” the guidebook boldly claims.

It goes on to lavish praise on the city of 600,000 inhabitants as “young, exciting, multifaceted – sometimes colourful, sometimes grey – and with a vibrant liveliness.”

“Everyone wants to go to the city where the anti-GDR demonstrations started,” the guidebook continues. “It is the home of Auerbachs Keller (made famous by Goethe and Faust); it’s the city of street art and wave gothic festivals; and its artistic scene at the Baumwollspinnerei is second to none.”

READ ALSO: A love letter to the eastern German city of Leipzig

‘Not cooler than Berlin’

Reaction to the list among the Local’s readership was mixed.

“It is a beautiful city and it’s easy to navigate. I find it hard to say that it’s cooler than Berlin, though. Berlin simply has more,” one reader told us on Facebook. “It’s the kind of place where people find their ‘spot.” I think most people in Leipzig know about most places in Leipzig. It’s a much smaller city. That may just be a more favourable lifestyle for some.”

Praise for Saxony’s biggest city ranged from admiration for the beauty of its architecture (particularly its train station) to the vibrancy of its arts scene.

Others suggested that Leipzig is indeed overhyped and that it can’t compete with natural wonders such as the pristine Königssee in the Bavarian Alps.

https://twitter.com/cr15b/status/1447491633486995458

Lake Constance wins silver

Lake Constance, the country’s largest body of fresh water, came in second on the list.

The authors praised the southern See, which borders Switzerland and Austria, for “the many beautiful spots on its shores: Lindau, Meersburg, Überlingen, Constance and more – often surrounded by lush orchards.”

A regatta on the Bodensee in September 2021. Photo: dpa | Felix Kästle 

Hamburg’s new Elbphilharmonie concert hall came in third. 

“It’s impossible to imagine the Hanseatic city’s skyline without this glass work of art, which soars into the sky above the harbour like a frozen wave,” the book notes.

Also in the top ten were the Wattenmeer, which is a huge nature reserve on the North Sea coast, Berlin’s museum island, the sandstone hills of Saxony, and Germany’s highest peak, the Zugspitze in Bavaria.

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