The accusation of unlawful receipt of child benefit can result in criminal proceedings. This can come to a shock of many parents who aren’t aware of this fact. Many are also not aware that should they or their children move abroad then they may lose their entitlement to child benefit. Not informing the “Familienkasse” (the institution responsible for providing child benefit payments) in good time can lead to major consequences. In German law it can be viewed as deliberate tax evasion and thus the individual faces criminal liability. Should you find yourself in this situation or if you have received correspondence from the Familienkasse concerning this issue then it is vital to seek legal assistance.
On this page you will find a generalised overview of German law relating to the unlawful receipt of child benefit. If you would prefer more specialised assistance, then it is strongly advised to contact our firm directly. This is especially the case if you have been contacted by the German authorities on this issue. This article aims to outline the law in a clearly understood but it does not constitute formal legal advice. Our firm can be contacted using the contact details below.
Child Benefit under German Law
Parents of children in Germany are entitled to child benefit payments. This rule is in place for German citizens living and working in Germany as well as EU citizens who are residing in German. When it comes to those without EU citizenship it comes down to whether you have an appropriate residence permit and can show that Germany is your place of residence (§ 62(2) EStG – Income Tax Statute). In most cases you should not also be receiving child benefit payments from any other country.
Receipt of child benefit is open to parents regardless of income or job status, however, only one parent of the child is entitled to receive the benefit. This is the case regardless of whether the couple are married or separated. Where parents are separated it is the parent who is the primary caregiver who is the one who should apply for child benefit payments. This payment is made monthly and the amount provided is based on the number of children within the family with the payments ranging from €204 to €235 a month. Child benefit payments can be made up to when the child is 25 if they are going through university or have a severe disability and cannot support themselves among other factors.
It is the carer for the child who receives the child benefit and only in cases of the child being an orphan or the parents being missing will the child themselves be eligible for the payment. One does not strictly need to be a parent of the child in order to receive child benefit as it is made available to the primary caregiver. In some cases this may be a grandparent or another person.
Unlawful Receipt of Child Benefit
The unlawful receipt of child benefit payments is seen by the Familienkasse as tax evasion. If this is allowed to happen for an extended period of time it can create criminal liability and potential sanctions. Criminal law sanctions can arise even when they send the money back which they are said to owe. One of these penalties is the possibility of additional fines. However, in these cases it may be possible to come away with a ruling based on negligence as opposed to intent leading to a reduction of the sentence. It may even be possible to have the proceedings suspended without the imposition of a fine. Contacting a criminal lawyer at the outset is vital to achieve such a result.
Moving from Germany is one way in which this claim can arise. Many people find themselves confronted with this problem because even though they may unregister from their previous city of residence in Germany they may not have informed the Familienkasse of the move. Informing the Familienkasse of the move abroad is crucial to avoid the unlawful receipt of child benefit. It is within the terms and conditions of receiving child benefit that informing them of such a move abroad will be given. By the time this move comes around many people are unaware of this situation.
Should you notice that you are receiving the payment it is crucial to act quickly. Contact our legal team here at Schlun & Elseven Attorneys and they will be able to advise you on how you should act. A case will be based on several factors including how long the person has been receiving the child benefit payment without having informed the authorities.
How to Respond to Correspondence concerning Unlawful Receipt of Child Benefit
If you have received contact from the Familienkasse concerning the unlawful receipt of child benefit than it is vital to know how to act. Firstly, time is of the essence. If the Familienkasse have sent a letter concerning the reclaim of the amount paid to you then be aware that you will have one month to lodge an appeal. Remember that the letter does not necessarily constitute guilt and such issues can be argued. Mistakes can be made by governmental bodies as easily as they can be made by private firms. If no appeal is made during that time the order is deemed to be final and thus the need to repay the stated figure is deemed to be a requirement.
Therefore, it is crucial to get in contact with a German law firm as soon as possible. Contact us using our details below this article. It is of course possible to try and resolve this issue without legal assistance but having an experienced legal professional in your corner will significantly increase your chances of a successful outcome. Having an unfavourable resolution to the accusation of tax evasion can result in serious consequences as outlined in more detail on our “Tax Offences” page.
Therefore, if you have a letter concerning this issue from the German authorities make sure to keep the letter safe. Do not dispose of it! It is also important not to ignore it. Contact a legal professional and from there it can be planned how to respond to this concern. Make sure to do this in good time so as to provide your legal counsel with the opportunity to assess your case in detail.
Potential Consequences of Tax Evasion in Germany
Accessing a lawyer in such matters is of great importance because the consequences for tax evasion under German law are serious. As stated, if the case does reach the court it may be possible to argue that there was no intention to commit the action and that negligence played a role in how the incident occurred. However, being found guilty of tax evasion carries with it the potential of imprisonment or a fine. Imprisonment for minor tax evasion offences can result in a maximum of a five-year sentence. The fines issued will be based on the facts of the case and the nature of the offence.
This is a serious charge and therefore knowing how to react is crucial to the outcome of your case.
Criminal Law Attorneys in Germany
At Schlun & Elseven Attorneys, we are experienced legal professionals in the field of criminal law. Availing of the counsel of a criminal law professional does not equate to admitting guilt and can be necessary when it comes to clearing your name. On this page we outlined the law relating to the unlawful receipt of child benefit. Should you need further counsel make sure to contact us using the form below.
From our offices in Cologne, Düsseldorf and Aachen, as well as our conference room facilities in Berlin, Munich, Stuttgart, Frankfurt and Hamburg, we work with clients from all over the world. Our legal team provides counsel and representation both inside and outside of the courtroom. Should you require legal advice concerning issues relating to the unlawful receipt of child benefit then look no further than Schlun & Elseven Attorneys-at-Law.