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Good tax behavior and COVID aid measures

Is the exclusion of “tax evaders” from COVID aid measures in conformity with the constitution? Experts from Haslinger / Nagele discussed this issue in the daily newspaper Die Presse.

Practically speaking, all current state aid measures that are intended to compensate companies for the COVID-related loss of income exclude companies if a final financial penalty was imposed on the company or the company’s management body in the last three to five years before the application was submitted, depending on the funding instrument.

At a first glance this seems appropriate – why would you help someone who has evaded taxes by means of tax money?

However, at a second glance one has to ask whether it can be objectively justified to exclude such companies from claims for compensation for state-imposed restrictions – years after the conviction and even longer after the actual offense; without the possibility of refuting the presumption of dishonesty. Moreover, what purpose are these funds supposed to pursue – the penalization of tax evaders in the past or the safeguarding of companies and jobs in the future? Why do other violations of the law, which also directly affect the fiscal interests of the state, not also lead to exclusion? Does this even represent a constitutionally inadmissible increase in the possible penalty ex post facto?

In short, there are a number of legal concerns about the funding guidelines as well as about a recently passed law that links the receiving of aids to good tax behavior.

In an article in the daily newspaper Die Presse, Partner Alexander Hiersche, Partner Kerstin Holzinger and Attorney at law Bernd Wiesinger, along with Christian Piska, Professor of constitutional and administrative law at the University of Vienna as well as Rainer Brandl, tax advisor and Partner at LeitnerLeitner, discussed these issues. The article can be found here.

Alexander Hiersche and Kerstin Holzinger also wrote a guest article on the same topic in the daily newspaper Der Standard, which can be accessed here.


14. December 2020

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