Closed store in Frankfurt am Main
Photo: Ralph Peters / imago images / Ralph Peters
The eased deferral of tax debts in the corona crisis is used extensively.
This is shown by a response from the Federal Ministry of Finance to a request from the Left that SPIEGEL has received.
Accordingly, the volume of property and transaction tax deferrals approved by the end of the year more than doubled between 2019 and 2020 - from 3.27 billion to almost 6.87 billion euros.
Compared to previous years, the increase was similarly clear.
Sales tax deferrals, which entrepreneurs have to pay regularly, increased particularly sharply. In 2019 only 94 million euros were deferred, last year it was 2.74 billion euros - almost thirty times as much. In terms of income tax, the amount of deferrals increased from just under 2.44 to 3.21 billion euros. Significantly higher sums were deferred for real estate transfer and inheritance tax as well as the solidarity surcharge.
In view of the numbers, Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) receives rare praise from the opposition.
"The deferrals arrived where the tree burned," says left-wing finance politician Fabio De Masi.
"In contrast to the corona aid, which is late help for many companies, the tax deferrals have proven to be quick and targeted help for companies that have been hard hit by the corona crisis."
Shortly after the start of the corona crisis, the Ministry of Finance had significantly relaxed the rules for deferring tax debts with a circular to the federal states.
Accordingly, the "demonstrably directly and not insignificantly negatively affected taxpayers" can submit applications for deferral, the review of which "does not require any strict requirements".
Fewer enforcements in the first wave
During the crisis, Scholz also made it easier for the tax authorities to postpone the enforcement of tax debts. This possibility was apparently made use of in the first corona wave in particular. Between April and March 2020, the volume of enforcement suspensions rose from 95 to 288 million euros, in May it was 187 million euros. The numbers fell towards the end of the year. The easing of enforcement postponements and deferrals have recently been extended, both can now be applied for until the end of June and granted until the end of September.
The most important relief for companies in the crisis was short-time working.
Because of her, however, millions of workers are now threatened with tax back payments.
The short-time work allowance itself is tax-free, but because of the so-called progression proviso, it can increase the personal tax rate.
The left now wanted to know from the Ministry of Finance what it would cost to suspend the progression proviso for short-time work for 2020.
The answer: a minus of around 1.6 billion euros in income tax and solidarity surcharge.
"The progression clause must be suspended in the case of short-time work benefits," demands De Masi.
It hits "especially those who are currently worried about their future."
Corresponding motions from the left and the FDP have already been rejected in the Bundestag.