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Tax collection: Germany 2010

start 11.04.2010

A taxation jungle, and insufficient hunters [1, 2]

- Taxpayers often forego much money because of the complexity of the tax system and the forms.
- Because of chronic understaffing in the tax offices two thirds of the mistakes made by the taxpayers in filling in the forms remain undetected. A representative sample revealed that on quarter of forms filled in by pensioners was had errors. The German Taxation Trade Union and the public service trade union Ver.di both estimate that staff numbers are 13-19% too low, especially in the area of of company autitors and investigators. During the 1980s there was one auditor for 200 small businesses, today this relation is down to 1:700. The direct effect is that the government loses an estimated €30 billion in tax revenue.
Businesses with high assets and affluent people that understate their income profit from the personell situation, while employees lack this "freedom of declaration", since the taxes are automatically deducted from their salaries.
A major reason for the chronic understaffing is thought to be the aportionment of tax revenues between the federal level and the states: if the states were to employ more staff, then they have higher personell expenses but most of the increase in revenue is absorbed by the federal government. Cf. caricature

Currently a new process is being developed for automated validation of taxation returns.

The suction of the tax havens [3]

The capital that german tax payers have transferred into other countries without declaring them are estimated at €300 billion. The boss of the Taxation Trade Union, Dieter Ondracek, was provided with information about a particular Swiss bank. This bank alone has opened over 52,000 accounts in Liechtenstein using false names and other means of concealment (letterbox firms, trusts, cooperations etc.). The minimal investment level per account is €1 million. So altogether at least €52 billion have been hid from the german taxation offices via this one bank.
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Sources [german]:

[1] DSTG "Steuerdschungel Deutschland", 13.01.2010 + "Falsch ausgefüllte Steuererklärungen: Rückerstattung unklar", 09.12.2009
[2] SZ "Personalmangel in Steuerbehörden: Tausende Finanzbeamte fehlen", 13.01.2010
[3] SZ "Steuerhinterziehung '52.000 Konten unter falschen Namen'", 25.05.2009



 

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