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Denmark: Tax Amnesty Adopted

(Sept. 14, 2012) Denmark’s Tax Authority, Skat (Skat website (last visited Sept. 14, 2012)), established a tax amnesty program, under legislation adopted in May 2012, that runs until June 2013, but many Danes are starting to take steps to take advantage of it now. Under the plan, taxpayers in <?Denmark may avoid criminal prosecution for tax evasion on funds deposited in foreign banks if they report the money during the amnesty period. The offer eliminates any possibility of a prison term and limits the tax penalty to no more than 60% of the amount owed. The tax itself must of course also be paid, with interest. (Amnesty Plan Entices Tax Evaders to Come Clean, THE COPENHAGEN POST (Sept. 10, 2012); Arne Møllin Ottosen & Mette Porskær Winther, Denmark: Danish Tax Amnesty Available Until 30 June 2013, MONDAQ (Sept. 12, 2012).)

The fine for those guilty of tax evasion who do not take advantage of the tax amnesty depends on the amount of tax owed, but could be as much as twice the original amount; in addition, the evaders could be sentenced to imprisonment for up to eight years. Prison terms were often given if the amount of taxes that should have been paid was over DKK500,000 (about US$86,700). (Ottosen & Winther, supra.)

The amnesty is only available for funds deposited in institutions in countries that have not had a tax treaty with Denmark in force since January 1, 2008, under which Skat can obtain tax-related information. Thus, money kept in Switzerland and Liechtenstein may qualify, but not money banked in over 70 other nations, including the United States. Both individual and corporate taxpayers can benefit under the amnesty plan. (Id.)

One tax attorney, Torben Bagge, expressed surprise at how many people have sought assistance on reporting money saved in other countries. “Everyone from regular employees with good jobs and pensions to the self-employed are [sic] trying to ascertain whether they can register their earnings without risking being prosecuted,” he said. (Amnesty Plan Entices Tax Evaders to Come Clean, supra.) He noted that some of the money saved abroad is “ill gotten gains” and also that some people have deposited money in foreign banks in order to obtain a better interest rate. Not all Danes with foreign assets are eligible for the amnesty; about 500 taxpayers have been informed that they are already being investigated for tax fraud. Only those who self-report can qualify for the amnesty. (Id.)