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Voluntary disclosure

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Voluntary disclosure of false or incomplete tax declarations must be EFFECTIVE. Declarations which are not effective may - as in the Hoeneß case - result in search measures and possible arrests. The criteria which an effective voluntary disclosure must meet are clearly stipulated, but are also professionally challenging for legal advisers In no cases for which advice has been given have taxable persons so far been shown to have the ability to file an effective voluntary disclosure independently. In these cases, the best outcome which legal advisers can obtain is simply to minimise the damage.

Voluntary disclosure in tax matters has by no means been made obsolete or invalidated by the latest reform of 1 January 2015. While the reform does tighten up the law further, it is still possible to make voluntary disclosures. The most important point is that all tax offences relating to a specific type of tax within the last 10 years must be disclosed. Voluntary disclosure is also only effective over certain ceiling limits if a sum of money is simultaneously paid under section 398a of the German Fiscal Code (AO). The taxes which were evaded must also be paid with the interest payable on the evaded taxes and other surcharges in order to obtain exemption from punishment. 

This means that ultimately voluntary disclosures are still possible, but have become much more costly.

Voluntary disclosures are still an effective means of correcting tax irregularities. The clean money strategies adopted by banks are also adding to the pressure in combination with more more bilateral agreements which are undermining bank secrecy.

The stringent requirements which voluntary disclosures must meet mean that it is essential that they are drawn up by qualified professionals. This is underlined by the fact that in many cases voluntary disclosures made without legal advice, and in many cases by tax advisers, are ineffective. Voluntary disclosures are one of our law firm’s core competencies. Ask for our advice and, where applicable, support before making your own voluntary disclosure.

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