Vienna, 26 March 2012 Fekter: “We will be more zealous than ever before in fighting benefit fraud” Austrian Finance Minister Dr. Maria Fekter is expanding the “Sonderkommission” against benefit fraud, in order to do even more to ensure justice, equal opportunities and legal protections for Austrian citizens.

In the fight against benefit and tax fraud, Austrian Finance Minister Dr. Maria intends to double the Ministry’s current team of 430 Financial Police officers within a few years’ time. “This new Sonderkommission we have established will be putting forward huge efforts to tackle these problems. The fight against fraud requires us to adopt a crime-solving approach – and we are intensifying and optimising our efforts on that front in major ways”, Finance Minister Dr. Fekter expained. She stated that the Sonderkommission would collaborate with the regular police to ensure that large construction sites could be cordoned off when raids are carried out. Dr. Fekter voiced her astonishment at the fact that “even on large construction projects with prominent developers, over and over again we are continuing to find illegal subcontractors involved.”

Dr. Fekter identified particular problems with social fraud in the Austrian federal capital: “No one is able to give me a plausible explanation for why Nieder österreich has only one tenth the number of cases we see in Vienna. It cannot be right that all of the problem cases are concentrated in Vienna. It is much more likely to be an issue of enforcement. The simple fact is that authorities in Vienna are dealing much more generously with benefit payments.”

Austrian Finance Minister Fekter intends to leave her “political footprint” in this area of the law through the large-scale tax reforms she envisages. “I am planning to put through a comprehensive package of tax reforms that are intended to prune back the thicket of complicated legal rules. Amongst other things, I want to launch a review of the 560 privileges given to guilds. This could enable us to generate up to EUR 3.5 billion in additional tax revenues”, Dr. Fekter stated. In addition, she said she wants to reduce the top rate of tax to the same level as that in Germany (45 percent on EUR 250,000/year and above), and she wants to do the same in respect of the basic rate of tax. “My motto is: less taxation, simpler taxation and more equitable taxation”, Dr. Fekter emphasised in closing.