As part of efforts to combat cross-border tax evasion, it appears that Turkey has yet to provide Germany with any financial information. This means that the individuals concerned still have the opportunity to submit a voluntary declaration.

There are now more than 100 countries participating in the automatic exchange of (financial) information (AEOI), including one of the more recent signatories, Turkey. The plan was for the financial information of individuals living in Germany with an account in Turkey to be reported to the German tax authorities by the end of 2020. Yet, according to media sources, this information has not been forthcoming to date. We at the commercial law firm MTR Rechtsanwälte note that this means individuals who are liable to pay tax in Germany and who have untaxed income located in an account in Turkey are still able to submit a voluntary declaration for tax evasion.

The details transmitted as part of the automatic exchange of information include the taxpayer’s name, address, birthday, account number, and tax identification number. The account balance as well as any income from capital is also disclosed to the tax authorities. This allows the authorities to check whether any tax that is due on the income has in fact been duly paid, or whether illicit earnings are being harbored in foreign accounts.

The reasons behind Turkey’s failure to date to transfer the information to Germany as planned are unknown. However, the issue is not whether Turkey will transfer the financial information to the German tax authorities but when this will occur. Taxpayers living in Germany who have untaxed income deposited in accounts in Turkey can still use this time to submit a voluntary declaration for tax evasion in order to obtain an exemption from punishment.

That being said, those concerned should not delay taking action any longer. Voluntary disclosure can only lead to an exemption from punishment if the declaration is submitted on time, i.e. before the tax evasion is discovered by the authorities. The declaration also needs to be complete and include all the information from the previous ten years that is relevant from a tax perspective.

This can quickly prove to be too much for a layperson to handle, with even minor errors resulting in a failure to obtain an exemption from punishment and instead giving rise to a fine or custodial sentence.

Your best bet is to turn to lawyers with experience in the field of tax law who know what information needs to be included in the voluntary declaration for it to be capable of leading to an exemption from punishment.

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