Tax evaders copy Bayern boss and confess

Tax evaders copy Bayern boss and confess
Photo: DPA
Thousands of German tax-evaders have contacted the authorities to clear their books and pay up what they owe. They are possibly inspired by the example of Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeneß - or the increased chances of getting caught.

More than 9,000 worried tax-evaders handed themselves in during the first half of this year – a huge number when compared to the 11,800 cases seen in the whole of last year, according to a survey of state finance authorities conducted by DPA.

Handing oneself in is a way to avoid punishment, providing everything is included in the confessional tax statement.

The Baden-Württemberg state finance ministry said around 2,360 people had contacted them during the first half of the year, admitting they had not been honest. In Bavaria the number was 1,179. It was there that Hoeneß admitted he had a fortune stashed away in a secret Swiss bank account.

Experts say his example may have inspired others – but that the purchase by some tax authorities of confidential information from insiders at Swiss banks would have a similar effect.

Norbert Walter-Borjans, state finance minister for North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) said the purchase of the confidential information – often stolen – was the only way to proceed considering the lack of official transparent information transfer.

He said his state would stop buying the CDs of information only when attempts to dam tax evasion were stepped up.

NRW has already bought six such CDs, paying around €9 million for the lot – a cost which was shared by other states, said Walter-Borjans. But he said that nationwide the information stored on the CDs, and the increase in voluntary confessional tax statements, had brought in around €3 billion.

“It is high time for close cooperation of all countries in the fight against tax evasion and tax avoidance. We need international information exchange which is deserving of the name,” he said.

The Local/DPA/hc

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