Conflict with the tax office – tax proceedings? Criminal proceedings? Or both?

If you come into conflict with the tax office, you may be confronted with two different proceedings: tax proceedings and criminal proceedings.

Although these two proceedings are legally separate, they can be related in terms of content and influence each other. It is therefore important that you contact an experienced law firm at an early stage to assist you in both proceedings, defend your rights and keep an eye on the possible effects of the tax proceedings on (potential) criminal tax proceedings.

What are tax proceedings?

Tax proceedings are administrative proceedings that serve to determine and collect your tax liability. As a rule, the tax procedure begins with the submission of a tax return or tax registration to the tax office. The tax office checks your details and determines the tax by issuing a tax assessment notice. You can lodge an objection against this assessment within a certain period of time or lodge a complaint with the tax court.

What are criminal proceedings?

In contrast, criminal proceedings are legal proceedings initiated by the public prosecutor’s office or the tax investigation department. It serves to investigate and sanction criminal offences. Criminal proceedings generally require an initial suspicion, which is substantiated by a complaint, voluntary disclosure or an audit by the tax office.

The public prosecutor’s office or the tax investigation department will then investigate you and may charge you with a criminal offence such as tax evasion (§ 370 AO), aiding and abetting tax evasion (§ 370 AO, § 27 I StGB) or administrative offences such as tax evasion (§ 378 AO).

You can defend yourself against the investigations with a lawyer. It usually makes sense to request access to the file and then send a statement to the investigating authority based on the file.

How are tax proceedings and criminal proceedings connected?

Tax proceedings and criminal proceedings are legally independent. In practice, however, there are interactions, as the amount of tax assessed in the tax proceedings also influences the sentencing in the criminal proceedings. Conversely, a criminal conviction in criminal proceedings can lead to an additional tax claim or tax assessment in tax proceedings.

Why is it important to have a good lawyer in tax proceedings?

Qualified legal advice and representation in tax proceedings is crucial in order to oversee and minimise your tax and criminal law risks. An experienced lawyer can help you to fulfil or correct your tax obligations by optimising your tax return or voluntary disclosure, strengthening your legal position vis-à-vis the tax authorities, conducting your appeals or proceedings properly and explaining your options for exoneration.

In this way, you can exert a positive influence on the criminal proceedings by reducing the amount of your sentence in the criminal proceedings or even obtaining a dismissal of the proceedings.

How can we help you?

As lawyers specialising in tax law and criminal tax law, we can provide you with qualified and trustworthy advice and representation in all matters relating to tax and criminal proceedings. We have in-depth knowledge and experience in these proceedings and know how to effectively protect your interests. We are at your side from the outset and support you at all levels. We stand up for your rights and work to find the best possible solution for you.

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