Lifeline in case of tax evasion – The possibilities of rescission with exemption from punishment

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Imagine you have made a mistake on your tax return and the tax office has already issued an audit order. In this case, a self-disclosure could serve to save the day. But what if this option is excluded? This is where the penalty-exempt resignation comes into play – a legal “lifeline” that many people are unaware of. In this article you will learn what this option is all about and how it can help you get out of a precarious situation without penalty.

Withdrawal without penalty

1. What is the resignation exempt from punishment? Penalty-free rescission according to § 24 of the Criminal Code (StGB) is a legal option that allows a taxpayer to get out of a tax evasion situation that has already begun but has not yet been completed without penalty. Unlike self-disclosure, which may be excluded in certain cases, rescission with exemption from punishment always applies if the offense has not yet been completed and the offender acts voluntarily and without external coercion.

2. When is it possible to withdraw without penalty? Withdrawal without penalty is only possible at the attempted stage of a criminal act. This means that the act has already been started, but not yet completed. In the case of tax evasion, this may be the case, for example, if an incorrect tax return has been filed but the tax office has not yet issued a tax assessment notice and less than 95% of the assessment work has been completed.

3. How does the penalty-exempt resignation work in the case of tax evasion? To benefit from the penalty-exempt rescission, the taxpayer must act voluntarily and on his own initiative. This means that he must recognize the error and actively correct it before the tax office learns of the irregularity. This can be done, for example, by filing a corrected tax return in which the incorrect information is corrected.

4. Differences between penalty-free resignation and voluntary disclosure: In contrast to voluntary disclosure pursuant to Section 371 of the German Fiscal Code (Abgabenordnung), for which strict requirements must be met and which may be excluded in some cases, resignation with exemption from punishment offers a less formal way of exempting oneself from punishment. As long as the act is still in the experimental stage and the offender acts on his own initiative, he can make use of this option.

In situations in which a voluntary declaration is no longer possible, a voluntary resignation can be an important option to get out of a tax evasion situation without penalty. However, it is critical to act early and catch the error before the tax office learns of the irregularity. By acting voluntarily and on your own initiative, you have the opportunity to correct yourself in time and get out of the matter without penalty.


Remember that each case is unique and it is advisable to seek legal advice to determine the best steps for your specific situation. In many cases, rescission without penalty can be a saving grace when all other options have been exhausted.

The s&w team will be happy to assist you with tax advice on voluntary declarations and penalty-exempt resignations, together with our law firm partners in the area of criminal law. Contact us or schedule a free of charge initial online appointment now.

Source: Haufe

Photo: Tingey Injury Law Firm (Unsplash)

Disclaimer: We assume no liability for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information provided here does not constitute recommendations for action.

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