Germany’s Federal Minister of Finance, Olaf Scholz, has purchased a CD from Dubai that contains confidential information pertaining to possible tax evaders. A number of taxpayers – including quite a few from Germany – ought to be concerned that their tax evasion will be discovered.

There has been little to report on recently regarding the purchase of so-called “Steuer-CDs” (tax CDs). That is until now: Germany’s Federal Minister of Finance (“Bundesfinanzminister”) has directed the Bundeszentralamt für Steuern – Germany’s Federal Central Tax Office – to purchase confidential data for the first time. The Bundesfinanzminister is seeking to step up the fight against tax fraud, with Germany’s federal states now set to examine the data from Dubai and uncover potential tax offenses, including tax evasion by taxpayers from Germany.

Tax fraud has long since ceased being treated as a trivial offense. Today, it is met with severe penalties. We at the commercial law firm MTR Rechtsanwälte note, however, that those concerned are still able to submit a voluntary declaration that can potentially lead to immunity from punishment.

The CD that was purchased from Dubai is reported to contain extensive information concerning assets in the Emirates belonging to millions of taxpayers, including assets belonging to thousands of Germans who own properties in the Gulf state and who may have concealed this from the German tax authorities. The matter will now be looked at in great detail by tax investigators. If their investigations bear fruit, the individuals concerned may be facing severe penalties ranging from fines all the way to custodial sentences.

One possible way forward is to submit a voluntary declaration, but this can only lead to immunity if the declaration is complete and submitted on time, i.e. before the tax evasion is discovered. The individuals concerned should therefore take action at once. Even if the tax evasion is considered to have already been uncovered, the declaration can still have a mitigating effect – much like a confession – and potentially be the difference between prison and a fine.

A voluntary declaration must include any and all information that is relevant from a tax perspective. A voluntary declaration that is incomplete or which contains inaccurate information cannot lead to immunity.

To avoid these kinds of mistakes and ensure that the voluntary declaration is effective, it is vital to consult with lawyers who are experienced in the field of tax law. They work in close consultation with clients and can be trusted to handle your case with discretion. They know what information needs to be included in the voluntary declaration and can prepare the latter in a manner that ensures that it will satisfy the requirements set out by the legislature.

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