Tax Criminal Law

Authorities bolstering their ranks

It could hardly be going better for the tax criminal lawyers. Although the surge of voluntary declarations is now over, its aftermath – that is, subsequent declarations or proceedings resulting from them – still in part provides for good business. Of longer-term significance, however, is the fact that the authorities are displaying a considerably stricter approach and are expanding their teams accordingly. Companies are thus confronted with criminal investigations much earlier and more often; ambiguities during tax audits in particular are fueling law firms’ business. Here, investigations and proceedings related to social insurance contributions and customs disputes are increasing.

The authorities have also declared war on antecedent dividend stripping transactions, in part spurred on by the most recent case law of the Finance Court in Hessen (Finanzgericht). For the tax criminal lawyers, the reappraisal of these deals has created a boom that may last for a while longer: the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority’s injunction that thousands of financial institutions account for any dividend stripping deals that may have gone on will also bring lawyers into play.

The enormous demand for competence in tax criminal law is evidenced by the fact that it is by far no longer only the leading firms such as Leisner Steckel Engler, which is involved in the reappraisal of the German Soccer Association (DFB) World Cup scandal, that are wining instructions. Firms such as Wessing & Partner, Roxin and Tsambikakis & Partner are also securing ever larger pieces of the pie. The latter is even set to open a new office in Frankfurt in early 2017 with a view to providing tax criminal advice to the finance sector. In view of such campaigns, PricewaterhouseCoopers Legal is likely to have been less than happy with yet a further departure.