VAT is a particularly controversial topic. Tax claims often impose a significant burden on entrepreneurs who, at times, may even find themselves facing a real threat to their very existence, due to the fact that VAT is purely based on turnover, rather than profit. It is also not unusual for tax authorities to make simultaneous criminal accusations against entrepreneurs. In this case, legal disputes are inevitable. The same applies to the areas of customs and excise tax. Our highly specialized expertise enables us to represent you, individually and specifically, in disputes with the tax authorities. We also offer support to tax consulting colleagues, while at the same time guaranteeing full client protection.
The same applies to customs and excise tax. Here too you can rely on our expertise and our extensive experience, to represent you in disputes with the tax authorities. If you already have a tax consultant, we will be happy to offer support to tax consulting colleagues, while at the same time guaranteeing them full client protection.
With our know-how as lawyers we can:
assist you with VAT audits,
negotiate with tax authorities,
apply for binding rulings,
file lawsuits in the tax courts,
represent you in the Federal Fiscal Court,
represent you in the Court of Justice of the European Union,
appear before the EC commission on your behalf.
We have acted as representatives in various legal proceedings. The following is a selection of cases we have been involved in, which will provide you with an overall impression of the type of work we do: Please download here
The TAX Dispute
1. What happens prior to the commencement of formal proceedings?
Any dispute with the tax office starts out of court. Complaints by the tax authorities often arise within the framework of audits or VAT special audits. We can assist you, from the outset, with your discussions and negotiations with the tax authorities, with a view to avoiding tax assessments with additional tax claims, from arising. If the tax office issues an entrepreneur with tax assessments including additional tax claims, the entrepreneur needs to safeguard his rights in an objection procedure. We will support you in establishing the facts and analyzing your legal position. This will allow us to specifically present your legal position to the tax authorities. We will not only focus on eliminating the tax burden but also on tax claims such as penalty payments for delays and payment of interest, which are often very significant, in economic terms.
At this stage, we usually aim for an out-of-court dispute settlement procedure which is in the interest of the entrepreneur.
VAT is related to service relationships between the provider and the beneficiary. This relationship is generally based on civil law agreements. Therefore, when it comes to a VAT dispute, we will also provide you with possible solutions in order to prevent any damage arising, from a civil law perspective.
2. Legal disputes
If the tax office stands by its unfavourable assessment, legal disputes are inevitable. Where necessary, we represent our clients, in the areas of VAT, customs and excise duty, up to and including trial. We will not only work on finding solutions based on national law, but will also refer to European legal regulations. The European primary legislation, the VAT Directive and the VAT Regulation No. 282/2011, constitute an interactive and complex legal VAT system which requires in-depth analysis in order to find possible solutions. Therefore, pure knowledge of the national law is often insufficient. Courts are increasingly basing the reasoning for their decisions on European law. Our specific training and experience enable us to guide you through this controversial area of national and European law.
2.1. Proceedings before the tax courts
At first instance, disputes are heard by the tax court. However, before advising our clients to proceed to the tax court, we evaluate their legal prospects of success. Detailed establishment and preparation of the facts is an essential pre-requisite to a successful outcome. It is only tax court proceedings which allow the establishment of facts and evidence, which we use to provide you with possible solutions and argumentation in line with current case law. We will not only assist you in written proceedings before the court, but also support you in the case of oral proceedings. Even at this stage, we will secure your position with regard to possible appeal proceedings. A successful tax court outcome is naturally of use when it comes to eliminating criminal accusations. If the tax court decides that there is no tax burden, it is almost impossible to be accused of VAT fraud.
2.2. Proceedings before the Federal Tax Court
The Federal Tax Court, as the court of final appeal within Germany, hears appeals and complaints originating from tax court decisions. We will represent you before the Federal Tax Court in appeal pro - ceedings, non-admission complaints and complaints. This applies for written proceedings as well as for oral proceedings. We will also deal with any new legislative developments. In the case of non-admission complaints, in particular, there are many formal hurdles that need to be overcome. With our experience gained from numerous proceedings, we will assist you in overcoming these hurdles.
2.3. Proceedings before the European Court of Justice (ECJ)
VAT, customs and excise taxes are taxes based on European law. Occasionally, national courts appeal to the ECJ for a judgment on a specific legal question. We will represent you before the ECJ in your legal dispute. A de - tailed analysis of the latest ECJ case law, and various European legal regulations, will enable us to present your legal position to the ECJ. We are very experienced in appearing before the ECJ. Even in the early stages of proceedings before the tax court and the Federal Tax Court, we are mindful that the matter may eventually be submitted to the ECJ and take appropriate steps in this regard.
3. In need of immediate help? – Interim legal protection
Despite objection to a particular VAT assessment, VAT still needs to be paid. The tax office is able to enforce a VAT assessment. We will take action with respect to the duty of payment and possible enforcement of the VAT assessment by means of an application for suspension of execution. If you require action to be taken against the tax office in order, for example, to obtain a VAT refund, we will seek to enforce this action by means of interim measures, where necessary. We will not only assist you in establishing the facts but will also advise you on the specific features of interim measures.
4. Specific features of procedures
VAT issues are always linked to specific procedural issues. Indepth knowledge of the German General Fiscal Code regulations and specific tax court procedural rulings are essential for a successful representation of interests. As highly experienced lawyers, we seek solutions beyond the general VAT law.
5. Advice for advisers
We are happy to assist other lawyers and tax consultants in disputes with the tax office and in the handling of any individual case. If required, we will limit our work to simply evaluating the prospects of success of a legal remedy in a consultancy capacity. We are also happy to assist you as a VAT support in criminal tax proceedings as well as in oral proceedings.