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Löger presents package to combat tax fraud: "We will banish organised international tax fraud from Austria"

Vienna (OTS) - "Nowadays, tax revenues are threatened by fraudsters who operate mainly in an organised, international and digitally active manner. This began with VAT carousel fraud, cum-ex and money laundering, but fraud schemes have expanded to include e-commerce or cryptocurrency fraud. The pattern of fraud changes constantly. Especially when fraud becomes a business model, we are talking about organised crime, which is completely unacceptable, not only in the realm of violent crime but also in the realm of financial crime," Finance Minister Hartwig Löger stated when opening the press conference.

"I want to ensure that we ban organised international tax fraud from our country and keep international fraud operations away from Austria", the Finance Minister stated at the first presentation of the new "anti-tax fraud package". Finance Minister Löger explained that he wants to intensify the fight against organised fraud on the state in order to protect honest taxpayers and businesses. "Those who are honest in paying their taxes must not be taken for fools. We cannot allow fraudsters to enrich themselves at the expense of honest taxpayers," Löger continued.

“Anti-tax fraud” package

In the interim, Finance Minister Hartwig Löger has bundled all anti-fraud units into a single unit, the "Anti-Fraud Office", which has more than 800 employees coming from the offices of tax investigators, the financial police and the financial crime authorities. In the second quarter, the Finance Minister will submit draft legislation for review. As of 01 January 2020, the "Anti-Fraud Office" is to begin its work.

Finance Minister Hartwig Löger has also announced that by the summer, together with the Ministry of Justice, he will set up an "Anti-Tax Fraud" council of experts in order to close gaps in the law which have been exploited by fraudsters, who are also supposed to be deterred by stricter laws. "The aim is to ensure that cheaters do not get off scot-free. That is why, for example, we want to codify criminal liability for deceiving the tax authorities in the fiscal criminal law in order to be able to prosecute such conduct quickly," Finance Minister Hartwig Löger stated.

"However, punishment alone will not solve the problem. Punishment only works if you catch the perpetrator. In order to achieve this, we are relying on new technical methods made possible by the high degree of digitisation at the FMF. Using predictive analytics, we are moving from answering the original question "What has happened?" to answering the question of "What is going to happen?”. When this technology is fully developed, we will even be able to target fraud at the emergent stage, rather than let it happen and then punish it. This is the kind of deterrent that makes a fraudster think", Finance Minister Hartwig Löger stated, as he announced the increased use of the Predictive Analytics Competence Center ("PACC") in the fight against tax fraud.

"Cum-ex" report

Finance Minister Hartwig Löger sees the "Anti-Tax Fraud" package as the right answer to fraud patterns such as the "Panama Papers", "Paradise Papers" or  the "cum-ex" scheme. A special team set up by the BMF has recently completed a report, facilitating further processing of the details of the cum-ex cases. The report has already been forwarded to the Austrian Attorney General’s Office and to the Public Prosecutor's Office for examination of the facts and potential legal action.

7 March 2019