Unrest among German insurers

Tax-saving models from the Principality of Liechtenstein come under the spotlight Düsseldorf – The affair surrounding tax evasion in Liechtenstein is also worrying German insurers, who are trying to woo customers with controversial tax-saving policies from the Principality. The insurance group Talanx is investigating possible risks of its Liechtenstein business, as group CEO Herbert Haas told the “Handelsblatt” on Friday. Talanx offers insurance products from Liechtenstein through its subsidiary Aspecta. The head of Allianz Germany, Gerhard Rupprecht, also expressed his concern about the tax scandal to the paper: “We are examining whether this could have consequences for our own reputation,” he said. Experts warn that tax-saving models with life insurance policies in Liechtenstein and Luxembourg could be regarded as abuse by tax offices. Two features in particular could be dangerous for the customer, says Munich lawyer Johannes Fiala, in the “Handelsblatt”: if the life insurance does not include any insurance cover at all and if the asset management does not run through the insurance company. In most cases, however, both facts are fulfilled. According to the report, many groups have been increasingly offering insurance products from the Principality in Germany for some time. Some companies offer so-called insurance wrappers into which savers can place all kinds of assets, from securities deposits to cash and funds. Unlike other forms of investment, the income is exempt from the final withholding tax under certain conditions. Investors do not have to pay tax on half of their profit until it is paid out. Otherwise, investors will have to pay 25 percent tax on investment income from next year onwards. Clients of Liechtenstein insurance companies remain protected from inquiries by foreign authorities in the same way as Liechtenstein banks under the insurance contract law applicable there. Around 40 insurers from various countries have established themselves in Liechtenstein. German insurers such as Allianz want to boost stagnating sales of their life insurance policies with similar products. There is some dispute among legal experts as to whether the Liechtenstein model for life insurance is actually legal, or whether insurers could be accused of aiding and abetting tax evasion. (APA/AFP)
(derStandard.at (29.02.2008))
Courtesy ofwww.apa.at.

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Dr. Johannes Fiala Dr. Johannes Fiala

Dr. Johannes Fiala has been working for more than 25 years as a lawyer and attorney with his own law firm in Munich. He is intensively involved in real estate, financial law, tax and insurance law. The numerous stages of his professional career enable him to provide his clients with comprehensive advice and to act as a lawyer in the event of disputes.
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