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Thousands of tax evaders come forward to declare

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Thousands of tax evaders come forward to declare
Uli Hoeneß was jailed last month for tax evasion. Photo: DPA
14:24 CEST+02:00
The number of German tax evaders who have self-declared to avoid prosecution trebled in the first quarter of 2014, figures published on Wednesday showed, with the rise put down to the "Uli Hoeneß effect".

As many as 13,000 tax evaders revealed their undeclared incomes in the first three months of the year, according to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, which conducted its own survey of the finance ministries in the different German states.

The number of new declarations was biggest in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany's most populous state, which, with 2,656, had five times as many as in the same period last year.

Bavaria had four times as many with 2,030. There were also large rises in Rhineland-Palatinate (1,684), Baden-Württemberg (2,669) and Hesse (1,327).

Former Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeneß was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison last month for evading some €28 million in tax, following a trial that drew both national and international attention.

According the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the finance ministries are certain the trial had a direct effect on the new surge.

Bremen Finance Minister Karoline Linnert told the paper: "The case of Hoeneß, the failed tax treaty with Switzerland, and the pressure of Swiss banks on their German customers to declare their tax situation - all of this has had an effect."

She was referring to what has been called the "white money" strategy now being adopted by many Swiss banks, which means they pledge only to accept money from customers who submit a written declaration that their money has been correctly declared to the tax authorities.

Carsten Kühl, Social Democrat finance minister in Rhineland-Palatinate, said this new development vindicated his decision to oppose the Swiss-German treaty, which was agreed by Federal Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble but then overturned by the German states.

If the Swiss-German treaty had gone ahead in 2012 then German citizens with undeclared money in Swiss bank accounts would have kept their anonymity in exchange for paying a one-off penalty.  

SEE ALSO: Uli Hoeneß attends first game since conviction

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