• Tax Evasion: Countdown for Voluntary Disclosure has Begun
  • March 20, 2015 | Author: Michael Rainer
  • Law Firm: GRP Rainer LLP - Hamburg Office
  • Tax evaders who wish to pre-empt a conviction for tax evasion with a voluntary declaration ought to hurry. Stricter rules for voluntary disclosure shall apply from 2015.

    GRP Rainer Lawyers and Tax Advisors in Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart and London - www.grprainer.com/en conclude: In all likelihood, stricter rules for voluntary disclosure in cases of tax evasion will apply as of January 1, 2015. Those who wish to return to a state of tax compliance with a voluntary declaration before this reform comes into force should therefore act quickly, as a voluntary declaration has to be well prepared in order to satisfy the requirements and not fail.

    Two conditions need to be fulfilled first and foremost: The voluntary declaration has to be submitted before the authorities have commenced investigations and it must be complete. This means that all tax-relevant accounts and information from the past five years need to be disclosed to the competent tax office. Time needs to be allowed for in order to gather these documents because obtaining the relevant statements from banks can be arduous and take some time. Even the costs and processing fees of the banks need to be taken into account for this. While the amount of evaded taxes can initially be estimated, the estimate should be very accurate and certainly not too low. The banking documents are also important for the purpose of obtaining an overview.

    This is because a voluntary declaration can only afford protection from a conviction for tax evasion if it is complete. That is why a voluntary declaration should not be prepared alone or with the help of standard templates; each case is different and it is easy to make mistakes. Even minor mistakes can result in the voluntary declaration becoming ineffective. It is therefore advisable to consult lawyers and tax advisors who are experienced in the field of tax law.

    Voluntary disclosure can presently lead to complete immunity for sums of evaded taxes up to 50,000 euros. In cases involving higher amounts, a penalty surcharge is levied. From 2015, this threshold is expected to drop to 25,000 euros and the associated penalty surcharges where larger amounts are involved shall increase. Moreover, the tax return will have to be corrected for the past ten years instead of just five.