Berlin Baden-Württemberg’s Green Finance Minister Danyal Bayaz has put a reporting portal online for anonymous reports against tax evaders. Union, FDP, AfD and also the SPD accuse him of sowing mistrust and promoting denunciation. But not all tax experts want to join the general criticism.
Baden-Württemberg’s Green Finance Minister Danyal Bayaz sparked a controversial debate in the middle of the federal election campaign and caused heated emotions: Bayaz, who as a member of the Bundestag had made a name for himself as an educator in the Wirecard scandal, put a reporting platform online on Monday to investigate tax evasion and tax fraud . The “Bild” newspaper took up the issue and accused the Green Party of Stasi methods. As a result, Bayaz was sometimes rushed on the net, and citizens did not hold back with personal attacks on his new reporting portal.
The topic also got on the federal political stage and the Greens on the defensive this week: Union, FDP, AfD and also the SPD criticized the initiative and accused Bayaz of sowing mistrust and promoting denunciations. The Green said, however, that he would hold on to the portal and file a criminal complaint against the worst agitation. Green leader and Chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock praised the tax fraud portal and wants to establish it, if possible, at the federal level. There was support from the tax union of the tax officials and the anti-corruption organization Transparency International as well as from the left.
The Baden-Württemberg tax administration introduced an anonymous whistleblower system for tax offices at the beginning of the week. “With the anonymous whistleblower system of the Baden-Württemberg Tax Administration, you can discreetly, securely and anonymously report reports of tax crimes or other violations of tax laws to the Baden-Württemberg tax authorities,” says the portal. “You also have the option of communicating anonymously with the responsible tax investigation office via a mailbox even after you have submitted the report.”
Bayaz said that anonymous tax reports have been possible for a long time by post or telephone. He has now only digitized this offer. “Of course, notifications have to be well founded, otherwise they will not be processed by the tax investigators in the first place. A simple hint is expressly not enough. “The Green assured:” Nobody has to fear that in future the tax investigators will see the door just because the neighbor has denounced him. It is also about relevant cases of tax fraud. ”A digital reporting portal already exists in the SPD-led Rhineland-Palatinate. In Berlin parliamentary circles it was said that the topic was “cooked hotter than it is”.
Nevertheless, there was sometimes violent criticism from the SPD, which has taken up the fight against tax evasion and tax fraud in particular. The financial policy spokesman for the SPD parliamentary group, Lothar Binding: “This promotes a culture of mistrust, resentment, subordination and denunciation” and should not “sneak into our society”. SPD candidate for Chancellor and Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz expressed himself more cautiously, but still critically. “I am convinced that we have first-class tax offices in Germany that do their job,” said Scholz on the sidelines of a company visit in Kassel. “And we don’t need any new techniques that would lead one to talk about the other,” said the Vice Chancellor.
“What we don’t need is a state call to denounce our neighbors,” said FDP leader Christian Lindner. “The demand that the Greens are now making reveals mistrust in the citizens, not trust.” FDP finance politician Florian Toncar added: “Tax evasion is criminal and must be prosecuted. In the rule of law, however, this is above all a state task. When the state turns its citizens into deputies by asking them to blacken others anonymously, it creates a climate of mistrust. “
The Union and AfD had previously accused the Baden-Württemberg state finance minister of promoting denunciation on the Internet with the “tax pillory”. “It already shows where the journey with red-green-red government responsibility would go,” said Union parliamentary group Vice Thorsten.
The taxpayers’ association in Baden-Württemberg also rejected the registration portal as “extremely problematic”. “After all, the new portal increases the susceptibility to abuse because in the digital age it can seduce users into making hasty and possibly false accusations anytime and anywhere,” said association boss Zenon Bilaniuk.
Left-wing financial expert Fabio de Masi did not join the general criticism. “A digital information portal can be a useful additional measure. It is already possible today to send information about tax offenses, for example by telephone, ”said de Masi to our editorial team. “But it seems even more important to me to increase the audit rate among the super-rich and to empower the financial administration with personnel. Baden-Württemberg also shines in the competition with a low test density for the large fish, ”said de Masi.