Fri, Jan. 09, 2004

Does German Government play foul with its tax payers?

SWM - Washington.   Iris Ebling, first female president of the Bundesfinanzhof, Germany's supreme tax court, harshly criticizes the German government for not transforming the decisions of her court into binding instructions for the tax administration. By statute, its ruling need to be published in the Bundessteuerblatt ("Federal Tax Bulletin") before they become binding on the agencies. Ebling stated in an interview with the German weekly magazine "Focus" that there was no reason why simple decisions in favor of taxpayers were published after a delay of three years or more. "That should be done in three month" she declared, according to "Focus". In her view, the number of unpublished decisions has grown into a "critical mass". In one case, the court had determined an administrative interpretion of the tax law illegal; the government "played foul" with both court and taxpayers by reinstituting the illegal practice by way of a statutyory amendment, thus overruling the court. In addition there had been 42 orders from the Secretary of the Treasury during the last few years which barred the agencies from applying the decisions of the court.

The Government denied that there was an intentional delay.

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