Voluntary disclosure and company audits
Businessmen generally react with great uncertainty to the announcement of a company audit, as even if taxes have been paid in good faith it is possible for mistakes to have been made. If the auditor gets in touch to coordinate the start of the company audit or announces the order for an audit, voluntary disclosure remains a possibility for the business owner.
The requirements pertaining to voluntary disclosure were not intensified in all areas from January 1, 2015. There have even been simplifications for entrepreneurs; in relation to VAT, the rules applicable before the introduction of legislation to combat illicit earnings have in part returned. This means that it is once again possible to make multiple corrections to advance VAT returns, because it is not necessary for advance VAT returns or payroll tax returns to be complete. Partial voluntary declarations can once again be submitted for these, although this does not apply to annual VAT returns.
Moreover, discovery of the offence does not, according to the new legislation, preclude a partial voluntary declaration. It is thus still possible to submit one if the company audit has already been ordered. Preclusion of voluntary disclosure only applies to the respective material and temporal scope, that is to say for the years specified in the order for a company audit. Thus, it is possible in principle to submit voluntary declarations for timeframes which are not covered by the audit order. Even in the case of the years specified by the order for a company audit, a voluntary declaration can still be prepared if it concerns merely careless and not intentional tax evasion.
The advantages for businesses are clear: They only need to correct the inaccurate information without having to fulfil all of the other requirements pertaining to voluntary disclosure regarding its completeness. This represents a clear simplification for businessmen given that correcting the information has hitherto brought with it the risk of criminal or financial penalty proceedings.