Swiss hunt German tax men for ‘spying’

Three tax inspectors who bought a stolen CD in their chase for German tax evaders have been told they must stay out of Switzerland or face arrest, after a cross-border tax spat turned nasty.

Swiss hunt German tax men for 'spying'
Photo: DPA

The tax inspectors, all from North Rhine-Westphalia, are wanted for “economic espionage,” Swiss prosecutors confirmed on Sunday.

Arrest warrants have been issued on the trio in the latest development in a long-running spat between the two countries.

“There’s concrete reason to suspect Germany of having given clear orders to spy on Credit Suisse information” Swiss prosecutor Michael Lauber told Swiss radio station DRS on Saturday.

German regional authorities, however, said the inspectors had done “their duty” by pursuing German tax evaders who were hiding money in Swiss bank accounts.

“The real criminals are not our tax inspectors, but those in Germany who exploit the conditions in Germany to accumulate massive profits then disappear into the dust and leave the payments to the honest tax payers,“ said North Rhine-Westphalia state Finance Minister Norbert Walter-Borjans on Saturday.

“The criminals also include those who have made assisting tax evasion their business model,” he added.

In 2010, the Düsseldorf prosecutor’s office raided branches of Switzerland’s second biggest bank in 13 German cities as part a probe of 1,100 clients and bank staff suspected of hiding funds from tax officials.

The raid came after officials in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia paid a reported €2.5 million for a computer disc containing information on wealthy Germans linked to the investigation.

This weekend’s latest spat comes as a proposal to make German investors in Switzerland pay the same amount of tax as they do at home seems on the edge of collapse due to renewed resistance from the German opposition.

DPA/DADP/AFP/The Local/jlb

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German tax offices told to go easy on households and firms amid crisis

German tax authorities should show leniency to people in view of the energy crisis, a letter from the Finance Ministry shows.

German tax offices told to go easy on households and firms amid crisis

Taxpayers in Germany may not be able to pay their taxes due to the rocketing costs of energy, according to the Finance Ministry.

“The tax authorities will take this special situation into account appropriately for taxpayers” who are affected economically, the Ministry said in a letter coordinated with the tax authorities in the federal states. 

The letter says that additional pressure should not be placed on private households and companies due to the situation. 

It means that people should be able to defer tax payments or adjust advance payments if they request it.

READ ALSO: How the cost of living crisis is affecting people in Germany 

Those affected should contact authorities

The special treatment on income and corporate tax will initially apply until March 31st, 2023, according to the letter.

The Ministry refers to the huge economic consequences of the war in Ukraine and sanctions against Russia, and mentions how spiralling energy prices are impacting people’s budgets.

People affected are urged to contact their local tax office. 

The German government has brought in – and is planning more – measures to help support people financially. 

At the start of this month, for instance, the VAT rate on gas was temporarily reduced from 19 to seven percent.

READ ALSO: How to save money on your taxes in Germany