Since 2010, the German exchequer has reeled in a nationwide total of around six billion euros by way of voluntary declarations for tax evasion. For tax dodgers, voluntary disclosure remains the only way out.
While the number of voluntary declarations has gone done noticeably in recent months, this should in no way give tax evaders a false sense of security. The cross-border fight against tax evasion continues. In the period since suspicions were raised concerning the possibility of a Swiss agent having spied on German tax investigators, North Rhine-Westphalia’s Finance Minister, Norbert Walter-Borjans, has disclosed to the newspaper Rheinische Post that the regional government will not be intimidated and that it was not ruling out purchasing more CDs containing information on tax evaders as part of the fight against tax evasion.
In light of the automatic exchange of financial information, tax dodgers should also be worried about their illicit earnings in foreign accounts being detected by the tax authorities. As a consequence, the risk of tax evasion being uncovered followed by the threat of severe penalties continues to go up. The only means of returning to a state of tax compliance is voluntary disclosure leading to immunity. However, this is only possible if the tax evasion has not yet been discovered. In addition to being submitted on time, the voluntary declaration also needs to be both complete and error free for it to be capable of succeeding.
For this reason, it is almost impossible for a layperson to submit an effective voluntary declaration without expert assistance. For those who nevertheless attempt to do so on their own or with the help of standard templates, they are running the risk of the voluntary declaration failing. The complex processes involved simply cannot be accounted for in this way. A voluntary declaration must always be tailored to the specific circumstances. Even minor errors can result in the voluntary declaration failing, with the prospect of a conviction for tax evasion then still on the horizon. In this case, voluntary disclosure can only have a mitigating effect on sentencing.
To prevent this from happening, lawyers and tax advisors who are experienced in the field of tax law can be consulted. GRP Rainer Rechtsanwälte takes the view that each case of tax evasion is unique and it is therefore necessary for the voluntary declaration to take into account the respective circumstances. There is no such thing as a ready-made voluntary declaration. It needs to be tailored to the specific circumstances of a given case. Only then can it succeed and lead to immunity.
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