Tax dodgers in Germany rush to come clean after Hoeness trial-paper

BERLIN Sun May 11, 2014 12:30pm EDT

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BERLIN May 11 (Reuters) - The tax evasion trial and conviction of former Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness triggered a wave of self-disclosures resulting in 16,926 tax dodgers turning themselves in during the first four months of the year, a newspaper reported on Sunday.

The Welt am Sonntag newspaper said it had surveyed finance authorities in Germany's 16 states and the number of self-disclosures in the first four months of 2014 was more than the combined total of 2011 and 2012.

The newspaper said since 2010, when the wave of self-disclosures first began, Germany has received a total of 4.3 billion euros in back taxes and penalties from a total of 82,995 people who had turned themselves in.

Tax evaders who come clean before an investigation begins can avoid jail by paying the back tax and interest penalties.

Since 2010 some German states have bought CDs with tax data stolen from Swiss banks, leading to a rise in the number of people turning themselves in and avoiding prosecution.

Hoeness was sentenced on March 13 to a 3-1/2-year prison term for evading 27 million euros in taxes and quit as president and chairman of Bayern Munich, the club he made into one of the world's most successful football dynasties.

Hoeness admitted evading taxes on income earned in secret Swiss bank accounts but hoped for leniency in one of the most scrutinised cases of its kind ever in Germany.

The case hinged on whether Hoeness, who as a player helped West Germany win the 1974 World Cup, cooperated fully with his voluntary disclosure. The court decided he took too long to provide information, and it was riddled with errors. (Reporting By Erik Kirschbaum; Editing by Jon Boyle)

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