Debate on tax fraud portal: excessive words in campaign mode


Status: 02.09.2021 6:37 p.m.

“Tax pillory” and “denunciation”. Such words use AfD, FDP and Union to criticize the Greens for their proposal to set up a platform to investigate tax fraud. Words that are inappropriate and wrong.

A comment by Franka Welz, ARD capital studio

The election campaign has now officially reached the Mariana Trench level of political discussion culture. The debate about the possibility of reporting tax offenses anonymously online is subterranean and hard to beat in terms of mendacity.

In the hope of gaining ground, the political competitors of the Greens open up the big cutlery. “Block warden mentality” is rumbling from the FDP, “denouncing” from the CSU.

Probably in the hope not to gamble away the currently promising position, somewhat quieter, but nonetheless negative tones come from the SPD. She just doesn’t want to be drawn into the supposed whirlpool of informers.

The Greens did not invent the anonymous ad

Facts only bother me, but here are some:

First: The state escapes an estimated 50 billion euros per year through tax evasion. For comparison: the development aid fund, which the federal and state governments jointly set up after the flood disaster, has so far comprised 30 billion euros. So you could have filled it with this sum and had something left over at the end.

Second: Even if the electoral competition portrays it that way – the Greens did not invent the anonymous reporting of tax offenses. This is already possible today in all federal states, including Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia. By e-mail, phone call or fax, just not via a central portal in which all important and correct information comes together.

There is the counter-argument: Similar to other online portals, for example for reviews, such a portal can invite abuse and false reports. However, scientific studies and the practical experience of many authorities show that deliberate false reports rarely occur and are therefore not a real problem.

Such a choice of words is inappropriate

Third: About the language. Denunciation is a complaint for low personal motives. But not every anonymous report is a denunciation. According to this logic, no one should call 110 to report a delayed crime, use the anonymous whistleblower system of the Baden-Württemberg police, which incidentally has been around since 2012.

There is no need to even discuss the historical neglect of block warden and Stasi comparisons, but the mockery of the victims of the Nazi regime and all those who involuntarily came into contact with the Stasi apparatus does. That is not the right thing to do.

Fourth: To excess. Some media and politicians driven by election campaigns have rhetorically blown their fuses to such an extent that it is hardly surprising how much hatred, threats or racist insults Baden-Württemberg’s finance minister Danyal Bayaz has since experienced in social media, among other things. Nobody may have wanted this – but accepted it approvingly.

And that doesn’t work. Not even in the election campaign.

Comment: In the Marienengraben of the culture of political discussion

Franka Welz, ARD Berlin, September 2, 2021 5:13 p.m.

Editorial note

Comments generally reflect the opinion of the respective author and not that of the editors.

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