Flank protection investigators and taxpayers‘ rights – President of the German Federal Court of Finance raises his voice
October 24th, 2012 | Published in German Tax News
We, at DEHNEN., have been concerned about developments regarding taxpayers’ rights for a long time already – and now, the President of the German Federal Court of Finance, Rudolf Mellinghoff has also raised his voice according to our request: Stop criminalization of taxpayers!
It has become an unwelcomed and somehow unlawful method by the financial authorities to combine tax audit and tax criminal prosecution procedures, using so called “flank protection investigators”. These public officers visit the unsuspecting taxpayer, asking for access to their private rooms (which is often granted because of the “surprise effect” but actually not enforceable by the authorities without any reasonable suspicion!) and thereby hoping to discover facts that might lead to further taxation and to criminal prosecution in some cases. This might be a question of whether craftsmen invoices presented by a landlord for tax deduction reasons were actually used for his rental buildings or for his private home. Also, even a delay in VAT registration applications today might lead to a fine. In earlier days, such issues were regarded as misfeasance that can happen to everyone from time to time.
While taxpayers have extensive duties to cooperate in tax assessments, they have a right to remain silent in criminal proceedings. For prosecution issues, no one can be forced to incriminate himself, the principle “in dubio pro reo” (innocent until proven guilty) is applicable.
We therefore appreciate the opinion of Mr. Mellinghoff and wish to support a development that treats taxpayers as what they are: the foundation of our legal democratic system. Criminalization of taxpayers without reasonable suspicion therefore must be abandoned immediately!