Bank Deposit Withholding Tax

Austria not to give up banking confidentiality.

| VIENNA, April 8 (KUNA) — Finance Minister Maria Fekter said
Monday that Austria will not give up its banking confidentiality, even
in light of a worldwide scandal involving over a hundred thousand people
depositing money in off-shore accounts in tax havens.

The scandal, which was kicked off by the publication of several
million financial documents on Friday, brought up the issue of tax
havens and the few countries that still have banking confidentiality,
such as Austria and Luxembourg.

On the weekend, Luxembourg’s Finance Minister
Luc Frieden

 said
that his country might loosen its banking secrecy, which would leave
Austria in an increasingly isolated position.

Fekter said that people in Austria had a right to having their
finances protected, not only in a monetary aspect, but also from
cross-border information exchange. She added that Austria had recently
reached an agreement with Liechtenstein and Switzerland which allowed
Austria to collect taxes without giving up banking secrecy, which was
“very efficient.” The comments were criticized by a renowned
Austrian tax law expert on, who pointed out that keeping banking secrecy
was in the banks’ favour, and not the people’s. On ORF
television, tax expert Werner Doralt also said that regarding its bank
secrecy, Austria could be considered a tax haven. “What is a tax
haven?” he asked.

“A country where strict banking secrecy allows foreigners to
dump their
untaxed

 money, thereby withholding it from foreign
treasuries.” According to international media last week, anonymous
informers gave journalists around 2.5 million financial documents,
causing a global stir. The International Consortium of Investigative
Journalists (
ICIJ

) said that around 15 months ago, it had received 260
gigabytes of data from around ten tax havens around the world, and had
been researching it ever since, together with 36 global partner
organisations. (end) jkw.tg KUNA 081526 Apr 13
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